The claimant was driving a Metro train, which stopped because of a problem with the overhead wires.
He then had to make several trips to and from the nearest Metro station to walk all of his passengers to safety. He had to walk on ballast on the railway tracks themselves. He said he walked a distance of about eight miles. In fact it emerged he had walked a much shorter distance on ballast of less than two miles.
The claimant's medical evidence was that walking on ballast caused a cumulative back and shoulder strain.
It was argued at trial that the defendant was in breach of the strict regulation 5(1) PUWER 1998 as the equipment was not maintained.
The defendant argued that the breach, in law, did not cause the injury. They relied upon Lewis -v- Avidan (2005) EWCA Civ 670 which says that, despite an absolute obligation, the court was entitled to look at the causative effect of any alleged breach. They went on to argue that it was not reasonably foreseeable that someone would injure themselves walking on ballast as a result of a problem with the overhead line. Effectively, the defendant contended that the damage was too remote.
The Judge rejected the defendant’s argument and adopted a pragmatic, pro-social approach. He found that the line failed, causing the claimant to walk on ballast, as a result of which he sustained injury. The cause of the injuries was the failure of the overhead line which was the significant and effective cause. Accordingly he held that the defendants were in breach of Reg 5(1) PUWER 98 and awarded damages of £7,303.77.
Richardson -v- Nexus .Trial 13 October 2006.