The employee had had two previous bouts of post-natal depression. The employer knew about them. She later complained of being overworked and under stress due to an increase in her workload and the number of managers to whom she had to report.

She complained about this in an email and stated she had “been there twice before”. The email was discussed with her manager but the workload was not reduced. She suffered a nervous breakdown afterwards.

It was held that appropriate action by the defendant, after the claimant’s conversation with her manager, would have either reduced or avoided the severity of her subsequent depression and failure to take that action was negligent. It was plain that the excessive hours was the cause of her potential depression.

Proper questions would have revealed that her feelings were similar to those of her post-natal depression and the claimant’s workload should have been immediately reduced.

Her damages were reduced by 1/3 to reflect the probability that she would in any event have suffered from depression.

Daw -v- Intel Corporation (UK) Ltd (2006) [2006] EWHC 1097 (QB). QBD (Goldring J), 23 May 2006

Thompsons' Cases

Standards of care in graveyards

A gravedigger placed his hand so as to identify the grave number at the bottom corner of the gravestone, which is sometimes obscured by moss or dirt. The gravestone fell back and jammed against his hand, crushing his fingers.

The claimant pleaded a breach of Regulation 5 of the Workplace Regulations 1992.

The defendants said they had put on a full comprehensive course about the risks of working in graveyards a few months before the accident, that the claimant was experienced in his work as a gravedigger since 1986 and that he should have been fully aware of the dangers of gravestones collapsing and not placed his hand behind the gravestone.

The Judge held the local authority could have made more effort to investigate and test gravestones. They looked very top-heavy from photographs and they should have been tested more frequently.

Because the claimant had ignored relevant advice given to him on the course only a few months prior to the accident, he was two-thirds to blame for ignoring advice and that deduction was made for contributory negligence.

Pickering -v- Middlesbrough Borough Council. Middlesbrough County Court, 8 June 2006