His hands and feet developed severe reactions to the cold
A former infantryman has been awarded a six-figure sum in a non-freezing cold injuries (NFCI) case against the Ministry of Defence with the help of Thompsons Solicitors.
Mr Jones, 27, from London, secured £400,000 after his employer continually exposed him to freezing-cold weather, leading to him developing severe reactions in the hands and feet.
Having enlisted in the Army in 2007 and, following basic training, he was assigned to the Second Batallion Royal Fusiliers. Over the course of January and February in 2012, Mr Jones undertook the ‘Lydd Exercises’ in Kent – a programme of two outdoor tasks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
“This case was avoidable and, if the Ministry of Defence had used the opportunities to remove Mr Jones from the exercises during the extremely cold conditions, his injuries could have been prevented."
The weather conditions were cold and icy with snow on ground and overnight temperatures falling to -8 degrees Celsius. Being in such close proximity to the coast, there was also a significant wind-chill and Mr Jones was only provided with un-insulated Gore-tex boots and standard gloves.
The second task involved burying mock IEDs for others to find but, as the ground conditions were frozen, Mr Jones had to use his hands to dig the holes. The continued wintry weather meant he had to stand in freezing conditions all day with no shelter, causing his hands and feet to become cold and his feet became wet. Complaints were made about the conditions in which they were expected to work, but no action was taken.
On the last evening of the exercise programme, Mr Jones was tasked with carrying out a night shoot – again, in freezing winter conditions outdoors – and, after he had returned to his barracks, he realised his feet had swelled to almost twice their size. He suffered from severe pain and tingling in the feet which later subsided.
Mr Jones was then posted to Germany in February and was tasked with outdoor exercises in continued snowy conditions during which he wore boots which were un-insulated. He again developed shooting pains in his feet as a result of the cold.
His reaction to the cold conditions were noted by a medical examination and, later, the medical officer. It was also noted at this point that he had been referred to the Institute of Naval Medicine (INM) but still hadn’t been seen.
While he was later based in Cyprus on downgraded duties, Mr Jones was ordered to attend a training exercise on Salisbury Plain in October 2012. He sought and was offered assurances that the activities would be indoor-only, however, the course was in fact outdoors and Mr. Jones had to sleep in a tent for three nights. He again developed symptoms of pain and numbness in his hands and feet.
Mr Jones was eventually examined at the INM by a surgeon who confirmed a diagnosis of NFCI. He was medically discharged from the Army two years later as a result of his diagnosis.
Mr Jones was awarded the six-figure sum in an out-of-court settlement, negotiated by Thompsons Solicitors, after his former employers agreed that he had been a strong performer while in the Army, and would likely have enjoyed a full career, were it not for the conditions he had developed.
Commenting on his case, he said: “Being forced to train in cold conditions has left me unable to serve in the Army, something I was always very proud to do. However, the support provided to me by Thompsons Solicitors throughout this case was outstanding. I will always have the symptoms of NFCI, and will have difficulty working in cold temperatures, but the compensation will go some way to helping me rebuild my life.”
Trevor Hall, the specialist at Thompsons Solicitors who represented Mr Jones, commented: “This case was avoidable and, if the Ministry of Defence had used the opportunities to remove Mr Jones from the exercises during the extremely cold conditions, his injuries could have been prevented. As a result, the prospect of a long and successful career in the army was ended prematurely.”
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