The claimant was a street cleaner for the council who tripped on plastic newspaper strapping which had been left in the street and in a public bin. She alleged it had been left by a newsagent, whose shop was a few feet away from the bin she was emptying when she fell.
The defendant denied they had put the waste in the bin. The claimant had no direct proof that they had ever done so.
However, disclosure from the local council showed that the newsagent had been reported for placing trade waste in public bins and was subject to such an investigation two years before the claimant’s accident.
The council also showed that the defendant had purchased no council waste bags for disposing of trade waste for 27 months before the accident, and only started to purchase trade waste sacks again after the accident.
Colleagues of the claimant confirmed they had seen trade waste in this bin before although, again, they could not be sure that it had come from the defendant. The defendant suggested the strapping could have come from a supermarket, just twenty feet away from the bin outside the defendant’s premises.
The Judge was heavily critical of the defendant’s witness and found their evidence unbelievable.
The defendant’s was the only store open in a parade of six shops on the morning of the accident and the only store with a history of incorrectly disposing of trade waste. He thought it highly unlikely a supermarket employee would walk twenty feet up the parade to place waste in the bin outside the defendants’ premises.
The claimant won.
Ruskin -v- Bushmead News. Luton County Court, 4-5 September 2008,