On the way to her granddaughter’s school, the claimant tripped on a pothole in the road about 30mm deep by a metre square. She was unable to walk along the pathway because cars were parked on the pavement.

The defendant said their “actionable” defect level was 40mm and so this was not classed as dangerous.

We argued that, because the defect was outside a school where cars were parked on the pavement and where pedestrian traffic was heavy at pick-up times, there was a higher risk that pedestrians would walk along the carriageway and the defendant had been negligent.

The Judge found the defect was indeed dangerous and it had been missed on the council inspection prior to the accident and therefore the council was negligent.

The claimant was held 50 per cent to blame as she should have seen the hole.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne County Court, 30 October 2007.

Post-Rothwell provisional damages award for pleural thickening

The claimant was a school teacher who had worked in a classroom with asbestos lagging in a poor state of repair; he also worked in close proximity to a heater containing asbestos materials.

The medical evidence was that he was suffering from pleural plaques, which was not causing any respiratory disability, and also diffuse pleural thickening giving him a 5 per cent respiratory disability. He also suffered from obesity, COPD and ischaemic heart disease, giving an overall respiratory disability of 40 per cent.

The medical expert thought the pleural thickening was of sufficient extent to make him more easily breathless on strenuous exertion than would otherwise be the case, but later said that any breathing deterioration was likely to be due to weight gain, and the pleural disease was therefore now accounting for a smaller proportion of his overall disability. The claimant was concerned about the implications of asbestos-related disease to his future health.

His Honour Judge Walton ordered £8,000 provisional damages. He gave weight to the witness statement, which made no mention of anxiety and said that the award had to reflect this.

Newcastle County Court, November 2007