When beds collapse on holiday

Mr Jones, a 53-year-old retired fireman, suffered injuries to his back as a result of an accident while on holiday in Costa Dorada, Spain. He was on holiday with his wife, his 17-year-old son and his daughter. Mr Jones arranged to share a room with his wife and son, and was assured that there would be three adult bed in the room when booking the holiday.

When he arrived at the hotel, Mr Jones immediately noted that the third bed was a folding camp bed. The folding bed was wedged between one of the single beds and a wall. To climb on and off the bed, Mr Jones had to shuffle down to the end of the bed on his bottom. He complained about the bed on arrival but nothing was done. He chose to sleep in the camp bed as he was smaller than his six-foot son. On the first night, Mr Jones shuffled to the end of the bed on his bottom to get off it and three of the bed slats collapsed under him, causing him to fall through the bed onto the floor, suffering serious injuries to his back.

The case was issued against the tour operator Thomsons. The medical evidence in the case was that this was a five-year acceleration back case with some depression.

At a court hearing on the 3 June 2005, Mr Jones was successful in establishing that the defendant travel company had not exercised reasonable skill and care in the provision and positioning of the third bed. The defendant travel company were, under the holiday contract, obliged to exercise reasonable skill and care in supplying suitable adult size beds and had failed to do this.

The Judge decided that, on the balance of probabilities, the sudden collapse of three slats in the bed should not have happened had there not been negligence or lack of exercise of reasonable skill and care on behalf of the hotel whose supplied the beds.

Firstly, there were express contractual terms in the booking conditions incorporated into the contract between the claimant and the holiday company. The contract terms agreed that the defendant holiday company had responsibility to ensure that the holiday was provided to a reasonable standard. The defendants were also responsible for acts and omissions of the hotel imposed on them by regulation 15 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

It was also a term of the contract implied by reason of section 13 of the Supply of Goods and Services act 1982, that the defendant would exercise reasonable care and skill in the provision of the package holiday services. The Judge therefore found that the defendant holiday company were, under the contract, obliged to exercise reasonable skill and care in supplying a suitable adult size bed and that they failed to do this.

In reaching his conclusion, the Judge also relied on Res Ipsa Loquitur.

The claimant was awarded £28,000.

Swansea Civil Justice Centre 3 and 6 June 2005 before Circuit Judge Neil Bidder

MDF settlement

The Leeds office had a significant settlement linking use of MDF (medium density fibre board) to occupational asthma/dermatitis.

The claimant was a joiner using MDF to make sets for TV productions.

The case was run on a COSHH Regulation 7 virtual strict liability basis following Dugmore.

Both sides’ medical experts agreed on causation and the case was settled at the court door with a value in excess of £100,000.

CICA: "trespass on railway" definition stretched

The appellant was a train driver whose train struck a pedestrian on a railway crossing.

His application for compensation for psychiatric injury under the scheme was refused on the basis that the incident did not amount to a trespass on the railway as the pedestrian was using an approved railway crossing and the fact that the pedestrian was not prosecuted for trespass.

The claimant argued: Trespass on the Railway

  • the evidence showed that the pedestrian was on a foot crossing when he was hit. The pedestrian only had conditional licence to use the foot crossing when no trains were approaching. As he crossed when the train was approaching, he was in breach of licence therefore a trespasser.
  • If the pedestrian had been one yard either side of the crossing he would have been trespassing within the meaning of the scheme. Using approach in R -v- Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ex parte Warner and others CA [1986] 2All ER 478, the panel should consider how the “reasonable man” would understand the circumstances to fit within the scheme. A reasonable man would not determine the precise location of the trespasser to be determinative eligibility.

The CICA conceded that there was an offence of trespass prior to the appeal hearing.

The panel accepted that the pedestrian’s licence to use the crossing was conditional and that he was in breach when crossing when the train approached and therefore was trespassing. Therefore he would be eligible if the award were justified on medical evidence.

The claimant was awarded £2500 for three months PTSD.

Glen Lee Fookes -v- CICAP, Bradford, 24 January 2005

OH (Lord Nimmo Smith) 31 May 2005