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Compensation for the Side Effects of Epilim and Depakote

French families are seeking compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote after a link was established between the drugs and child birth defects.

The drugs Epilim and Depakote were first introduced in France in 1967 under the brand name Depakine. Due to a natural nerve-calming agent called GABA that could stabilize electrical activity in the brain, the drug was originally used to treat epilepsy. Later, the drug was also prescribed for the treatment of bipolar disorder and, more informally, given to treat migraine and other chronic pain conditions.

Over the years, claims have been made that the drug´s active ingredients – sodium valproate and valproic acid – can cause birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Studies conducted in the 1980s found that babies born to mothers who had taken the drug had a 10% risk of suffering from heart, kidney or spine defects, and a 30% – 40% risk of being affected by delayed development or autism.

Now an extensive study by the France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has confirmed the claims after tracking the medical history of 14,000 women known to have taken Depakine during pregnancy between 2007 and 2014. The study found up to 4,100 children were suffering the side effects of Epilim and Depakote and hundreds more had died in the womb.

Parents of the affected children are claiming that the manufacturers – Sanofi – failed to warn expectant mothers about the potential consequences of taking the drug and have formed a class action to claim compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote. The ANSM may also be facing legal action for failing to adequately advise the medical profession of the side effects of Epilim and Depakote.

In the UK, Epilim was first introduced in 1973. It was not until 2006 that warnings were first issued to doctors about prescribing Epilim and Depakote to expectant mothers. Those warnings have now been extended to include all women of childbearing age unless administration is initiated and supervised by a specialist after all other medications have found to ineffective.

If a member of your family has suffered an injury due to the consequences of taking sodium valproate during pregnancy, there are currently several avenues open to claim compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote. It is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor and seek professional legal advice about claiming compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote while these avenues remain open.

Claim for a Slip and Fall Injury in McDonalds Settled Out of Court

A woman´s claim for a slip and fall injury in McDonalds has been settled out of court three years after the former employee´s accident.

In the summer of 2014, Libby Gifford (20) was working as a catering assistant at the Rush Green branch of McDonalds in Hertfordshire, when she slipped and fell on a wet floor – landing on her back and sustaining an injury to her coccyx.

Libby´s injury prevented her from working, disturbed her sleep and made it impossible for her to sit still for long periods. She sought medical attention and underwent a course of physiotherapy, after which she approached her branch manager to ask about compensation.

The branch manager refused to consider Libby´s request, so she sought legal advice from a solicitor and made a formal claim for a slip and fall injury in McDonalds. In her claim, Libby alleged that McDonalds had been negligent by failing to place signs on or by the wet floor warning of the hazard.

McDonalds denied liability for Libby´s injury, but her solicitor pursued the claim for a slip and fall injury in McDonalds. Now, three years after Libby´s accident, the restaurant chain has agreed to a £2,500 out of court compensation settlement without an admission of liability.

Speaking with her local paper after the claim for a slip and fall injury in McDonalds had been resolved, Libby – who now lives in Nottinghamshire – said:

“I am really happy that this is all over and I have the compensation that I deserve. I slipped and fell straight on my backside and it was quite embarrassing as everyone started laughing. After it happened there wasn’t any pain initially but then my back seized up and it hurt to sit still for long periods. It has taken a while but I am glad an agreement could be reached.”

Widow to Donate Mesothelioma Compensation Settlement

The widow of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer is donating her mesothelioma compensation settlement to the hospice that cared for her husband.

Barry Dempsey from Scarborough in Yorkshire was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in June 2015. He died from the condition the following April aged 75 and, prior to his death, Barry instructed solicitors to investigate how he came into contact with the asbestos responsible for his illness.

His solicitors discovered that, during the five years he worked as an apprentice electrician at ICI, he was exposed to asbestos dust due to the poor condition of asbestos lagging around boilers and pipework. Despite Barry´s passing, his widow pursued a claim for compensation against ICI´s formers insurers.

In the claim for a mesothelioma compensation settlement, Barry´s widow – Patricia – alleged that ICI did not take reasonable steps to prevent Barry inhaling deadly asbestos dust, even though the company was aware of the risks from asbestos and that asbestos was present in the workplace.

After a period of negotiation, ICI´s former insurers agreed to a mesothelioma compensation settlement, which Patricia – Barry´s wife of 52 years and mother to their three children – has said she will donate to the hospice that provided a care at home service during the final days of Barry´s life.

Speaking with her local newspaper, Patricia said: “Barry’s death has been difficult for us all to come to terms with and one of the primary reasons for taking legal action was to recoup the cost of care provided to him by the staff at St. Catherine’s Hospice.

“All of us have at some time been touched by a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with a type of cancer and we have seen the amazing job the dedicated staff at St. Catherine’s do to make people as comfortable as possible in their final days.”

Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claim Resolved for Former Engineer

An engineer, who previously worked on the production line at an MG Rover factory, has resolved his noise induced hearing loss claim for a four-figure sum.

Between 1970 and 1985, Dewi Thomas (67) from Llanelli in Carmarthenshire worked as line feeder in the plastic department of the local MG Rover factory. His role included feeding material into around thirty powerful and noisy plastic moulding machines.

In 2004, Dewi sought medical advice as he was experiencing difficulty understanding what people were saying in noisy environments and had started lip reading in order to take part in conversations. He was diagnosed with noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

As the only time he had ever been exposed to high levels of noise was while working at the MG Rover factory, Dewi sought legal advice and made a noise induced hearing loss claim against the company´s insurers.

Liability was admitted, and a four figure settlement of Dewi´s noise induced hearing loss claim was agree to compensate him for his injury and contribute towards the cost of his hearing aids. After the claim had been resolved, Dewi said:

“While I’m delighted to have secured the settlement, I know that nothing will ever change what has happened to me. I would urge all employers to always ensure they are providing their workers with adequate hearing protection and taking steps to prevent anyone else facing what I’ve been through.”

Dewi´s noise induced hearing loss claim was the result of prolonged exposure to a noisy environment without adequate hearing protection. However workers in all industries can suffer noise induced hearing loss caused by a one-time exposure to a sudden or intense “impulse” sound.

If you have been diagnosed with a hearing problem that may be attributable to lack of hearing protection in the workplace, it may be worth your while to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor to determine whether you also may be eligible to make a noise induced hearing loss claim.

Widow Settles Claim for the Misdiagnosis of a Heart Disease

A widow from Bridgend in South Wales has settled her claim for the misdiagnosis of a heart disease that resulted in the death of her forty-seven year old husband.

Father of three, Andrew Jones, had suffered from high blood pressure and chest pains since 2002, but in July 2011 he felt particularly unwell and attended his GP, who referred him to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend for tests. Andrew was admitted for a short time for the tests, and then returned regularly to the hospital as an outpatient.

Irregularities in Andrew´s heart were identified by doctors at the Princess of Wales, but they were attributed to an enlarged heart and his health problems were diagnosed as acid reflux. Tragically Andrew collapsed at his home on 17th March 2012 and died in hospital the following day.

The hospital´s error was not identified until the inquest into Andrew´s death; following which his widow – Jacqueline – sought legal advice and made a claim for the misdiagnosis of a heart disease against Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board. In her claim, Jacqueline alleged the hospital was aware Andrew had a history of heart trouble and failed to make a correct diagnosis due to negligence.

The Health Board contested the claim for the misdiagnosis of a heart disease but, after a period of negotiation, it agreed to six-figure settlement of the claim without an admission of liability. Speaking with her local newspaper after the claim had been settled, Jacqueline said:

“We remain devastated by the nature of his death, considering that he had been receiving ongoing treatment for his cardiac problems yet the issues which led to his death were not identified. While nothing will ever bring Andrew back, we truly hope that steps have been taken to ensure that no other family faces the loss and the subsequent ordeal we have been through.”

When asked for a comment, a spokesperson for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said: “We are committed to learning from cases to improve practice. We have reviewed this case to determine if any lessons could be learnt from it or changes made to processes.”

Butcher Settles Leptospirosis Compensation Claim

A butcher has settled his leptospirosis compensation claim for an undisclosed figure after solicitors reached an agreement with the man´s former employer.

In August 2012, the fifty-nine year old butcher sought advice from his GP after experiencing a range of symptoms including fever, severe headaches, pains in his eyes and across his body. Tests revealed the butcher was suffering from a leptospirosis infection and, although he was successfully treated for the infection, he stills suffers from fatigue and continues to experience headaches.

Since 2003, the man had been Head Butcher for Ragley Estate Meat in Redditch, and his duties had included transporting livestock for slaughter and subsequently cleaning the trailers of faeces and urine. During this time, the man had never been warned of the risks he was exposed to by working with live animals or provided with any personal protective equipment.

Once his symptoms had been diagnosed, the infection was reported to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as is required by law. The HSE conducted an investigation, following which more information was provided to the other employees on the state. The butcher unfortunately was unable to return to his position full-time due to his post-infection symptoms and, in 2013, he took voluntary redundancy.

The man subsequently sought legal advice about his former employer´s failure to warn him of the risks of his job and failure to provide personal protective equipment. He subsequently made a leptospirosis compensation claim against Ragley Estate Meat, which was recently settled for an undisclosed six-figure sum. Speaking after the settlement of his leptospirosis compensation claim, the man said:

“While nothing is going to change the health problems I have had over the past few years, I hope this settlement will allow me to look to a brighter future. It is also vital that my story encourages farming businesses to ensure they are doing everything they can to protect workers from leptospirosis and other related illnesses.”

Magistrates Issue Fines for Avoidable Demolition Site Accident

Manchester Magistrates have issued fines totalling £15,300 for safety failings that led to a demolition site accident and serious injuries to an employee.

In August 2014, two employees of Access Flooring Specialists Ltd were demolishing a concrete block wall at the Manchester building formerly known as Portland Tower. One of the men started cutting into the wall at the half way point, until the second employee took over and continued from the top of the wall, using step ladders for access.

Unfortunately, as the second man – a 53-year-old father of two from Salford – continued demolishing the wall, the top half of the wall collapsed, knocking him from the stepladder and landing on top of him. He was taken to hospital with a fractured neck and back injuries, where he remained for three months. He has been unable to return to work since the demolition site accident.

Inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive investigated the circumstances of the accident and found that no suitable risk assessment had been conducted for the job. IT was also found that the two men had not been given instructions how to complete the job safely, no checks had been made regarding their experience, and they were not provided with suitable personal protective equipment.

Their employer – Access Flooring Specialists Ltd – and the general contractor in charge of the demolition site – Workspace Design and Build Ltd – were prosecuted for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. Both companies pleaded guilty and, at Manchester Magistrates Court, were fined £1,300 and £14,000 respectively.

Speaking after the Magistrates hearing, HSE Inspector Laura Moran said: “The risks associated with the demolition of the internal walls at Portland Tower were not properly considered and, as a result, there was no safe system of work in place for the operatives to follow. Together with a lack of adequate supervision, these failings resulted in one man suffering serious and life changing injuries in a demolition site accident, which could have been prevented had the work been properly planned and managed.”

Company Fined for Fatal Fork Lift Accident at Work

A recycling company has been fined by Wolverhampton Magistrates Court for health and safety failings that resulted in a fatal fork lift accident at work.

On 4th January 2013, Mohammed Yasin (37) was working at the Recycled Paper UK Ltd factory in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, when the fork lift truck he was driving overturned due to the weight of the load it was carrying. Mohammed was thrown from the cab of the vehicle, and fatally injured when he was hit by the fork lift truck as it overturned.

An inquest into the fatal fork lift accident at work heard that Mohammed had been driving fork lift trucks for almost ten years without ever having taken the required health and safety training course. It was also disclosed it was common practice for fork lift truck drivers not to wear seatbelts, and that the company´s management never insisted upon it.

The inquest jury noted several factors had contributed to the fatal fork lift accident at work – not least that Mohammed had received insufficient training to safely operate the vehicle as a result of Recycled Paper UK´s failed to implement and enforce an adequate health and safety policy. The coroner – Robin Balmain – returned a verdict of accidental death.

An investigation into the fatal fork lift accident at work by the Health & Safety Executive also found the company failed to have adequate supervision of its drivers and prosecuted Recycled Paper UK Ltd with breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However, as the company is now in liquidation, Wolverhampton Magistrates Court was only able to impose a nominal £1.00 fine.

Speaking after the Magistrates hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Lane said: “This was an extremely tragic incident which highlights the importance for duty holders to appropriately supervise and train workers to the required standard when operating such machinery.”

Mother to Receive Compensation for Brain Damage during Surgery

The mother of a woman who died ten years after undergoing a routine operation is to receive £430,000 compensation for brain damage during surgery.

In September 2003, nine-year-old Carrie Wright from Hull in Yorkshire attended Leeds Royal Infirmary to undergo elective surgery to repair a heart defect. In order to prevent brain damage while her heart was being repaired, Carrie was put into Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest. However, rather than limiting the period of circulatory arrest to the recommended forty-five minutes, the surgeon kept Carrie in this condition for more than two hours.

As a result of the surgeon´s negligence, Carrie sustained significant brain damage. She was unable to walk or stand without help, she needed assistance with practically every aspect of her daily live and had very limited speech. Until her death in December 2013, Carrie attended a specialist college in Nottinghamshire during the week and was cared for by her parents at weekends.

While she was still alive, Carrie´s mother – Dawn Clayton – claimed compensation for brain damage during surgery on her daughter´s behalf, alleging there was no justifiable reason for Carrie´s surgeon keeping her in circulatory arrest for so long. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust initially denied liability for Carrie´s injury until the surgeon – Dr Nihal Weerasena – was referred to the General Medical Council to answer charges of gross misconduct.

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust finally admitted liability for Carrie´s injuries last year – just months before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found Dr Weerasena guilty of eight charges of gross misconduct. A settlement of compensation for brain damage during surgery was subsequently agreed with the NHS Litigation Authority. Speaking after the claim has been resolved, Carrie´s mother told her local newspaper:

“Prior to the operation, Carrie was just like any other active nine-year old girl. She left me early on the day of the operation and came back from surgery that evening changed forever. I only received a letter of apology last year, some 13 years after the operation. I have always felt that they wanted to sweep this matter under the carpet. It has been horrendous for our family to lose Carrie in the way that we did. This has been exacerbated by the long battle we have had with the hospital to get recognition of their failings.”

Changes to Whiplash Compensation Claims to Take Effect Oct 2018

The government has announced changes to how whiplash compensation claims will be handled and the date from which the changes will take effect – Oct 1st 2018.

Details of most of the government´s personal injury reforms were announced last week by the Ministry of Justice – including changes to how whiplash compensation claims will be handled from Oct 1st 2018. As largely expected, the threshold for claims made through the small courts has been raised to £5,000, but this increase only relates to injuries sustained in road traffic accidents. Other personal injury claims through the small claims court will be subject to a ceiling of £2,000, with the exception of claims for minor psychological injuries such as travel anxiety and shock.

In addition to the new threshold for small claims, whiplash compensation claims will be settled according to how long the symptoms of whiplash persist. Over the seven bands ranging from “up to three months” to nineteen to twenty-four months” claimants will be entitled to receive a set figure of between £225 and £3,725 – generally much lower than the current levels of whiplash injury settlements. Strict definitions will be applied to what constitutes a whiplash injury in order to reduce the scope for whiplash compensation claims to circumnavigate the new measure.

In one further significant change to whiplash compensation claims, insurance companies will be prohibited from making an offer of settlement without medical evidence. This measure will help eliminate bogus whiplash compensation claims and encourage insurance companies to make fair and accurate offers of settlement to claimants injured in a road traffic accident. The Ministry of Justice commented it expects the savings made by insurance companies under the changes to be reflected in the cost of future motor insurance policies.

The Ministry also added that judges would have the discretion to increase or decrease whiplash compensation settlements by up to 20% “in exceptional circumstances”. No definition has been given of what “exceptional circumstances” should involve, the Ministry believing it is more appropriate for the courts to decide when circumstances are exceptional.

Couple Receive Compensation for an Illness on a P&O Cruise

A couple who were both taken ill during a holiday to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary have received compensation for an illness on a P&O cruise.

In January 2015, David and Doreen Dale from Whitstable in Kent were on the holiday of a lifetime to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Having flown out to Australia to join the P&O cruise ship Arcadia, the couple were looking forward to enjoying a luxury vacation.

However, on the fourth day of their holiday, Doreen contracted a respiratory tract infection – a contagious illness that affects the lungs and airways. She was able to receive medical attention in Perth, but David was not so fortunate – contracting the disease later in the trip and being denied the opportunity to see a doctor at the on-board medical centre.

Both David and Doreen needed further medical attention when they returned to the UK and thereafter sought legal advice, discovering later that a total of eleven passengers on their vacation were claiming compensation for an illness on a P&O cruise – at least one of whom had contracted the food poisoning bug Campylobacter.

Describing the conditions on board the ship, Doreen said: “Both David and I were really concerned by certain things on board the ship, such as air conditioning units that were leaking and the bed linen not being changed daily. It was obvious that people on board the ship were not well as in the evenings you could hear lots of coughing in the theatre.”

Solicitors acting on behalf of the group of holidaymakers have now negotiated a settlement of compensation for an illness on a P&O cruise. Speaking to the Daily Express, Doreen said: I am relieved that our legal battle is finally over. Our cruise was a nightmare and we were so disappointed and upset that our fiftieth wedding anniversary was ruined.”

Council Fined for an Accident in a School Workshop

Islington Borough Council has been fined £200,000 for a health and safety breach that resulted in a pupil losing a finger in an accident in a school workshop.

On 25th March 2014, the unnamed eleven-year-old boy was in a design and technology class when he went to use a Morris flex belt sanding machine to file his project. The boy had never used the machine before and was shown how to operate it by another pupil who was unaware of the purpose of the raised metal guard.

When the boy put his plywood project onto the sanding belt, the metal guard flipped downwards and trapped the boy´s left hand between the sanding belt and shape he was trying to sand. The accident in a school workshop resulted in the boy having the middle finger of his left hand amputated down to the knuckle.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the accident in a school workshop and found that the teacher in charge of the class had not receive sufficient training to identify the machine was in an unsafe condition or the risks involved in allowing pupils to use the machine unsupervised.

The HSE prosecuted Islington Borough Council for breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and, at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Deborah Taylor fined the council £200,000 for an accident in a school workshop plus costs of £19,865. Judge Taylor said: “I make it clear that, had this not been a local authority and bearing in mind the size of the organisation and the way it worked, the fine would have been considerably higher.”

Speaking after the hearing, an Islington Borough Council spokesman said: “This was a serious injury, which could have been prevented. We’re very sorry this happened and apologise to our student and his family. Since this accident in 2014 we have introduced comprehensive new procedures for health and safety in our schools.”

HSE inspector Jane Wolfenden added: “It is important to create a safe teaching environment for pupils where they can learn to appreciate and manage the risks they will face in life. If the teacher had been appropriately trained on how to use the equipment for the lesson, they would have been able to show the pupils how to properly use the sanding machine. Instead a young boy sustained an extremely painful injury that could have easily been avoided.”

Woman Claims Employer Discrimination due to a Disability

A woman has told an employment tribunal in Southampton that employer discrimination due to a disability left her feeling “hurt and confused”.

Kay Sunny (52) – a clerk for the cosmetics company Estee Lauder – told the employment tribunal how, in May 2006, she suffered an epileptic fit in front of the company´s HR Manager and was rushed to Southampton General Hospital where she was diagnosed with epilepsy and a generic blood disorder that resulted in her also suffering a stroke.

While she was off work, Kay was paid a proportion of her salary under the company´s permanent health insurance scheme. The payments were supposed to continue until she was fit to return to work or until her retirement, but in August 2013 the payments stopped and Kay received a letter from her employer saying that she was no longer incapacitated and was fit to return to work.

Kay complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service and, in 2015, a decision was granted in her favour. Her health insurance payments resumed, but she was still upset by the tone of her employer´s unsympathetic letter – having not previously heard from the company for a number of years. Kay sought legal advice and made a claim for employer discrimination due to a disability.

At the hearing, a representative of Estee Lauder argued that the letter did not constitute employer discrimination due to a disability, but was a reasonable request on behalf of the insurance company to ensure the severity of the Kay´s medical condition. Kay questioned why, in seven years, the company´s HR Manager had not picked up the phone to see how she was or advise her that the insurance company was making enquiries.

Kay explained to the tribunal board that her condition had left her feeling low and depressed, and afraid to go out. “I hated the embarrassment of having a seizure in front of people I knew, being unable to remember things and getting lost,” she said. “To be blunt, I felt stupid”. The decision in Kay´s claim for employer discrimination due to a disability is expected in several months.

Compensation for Workplace Disability Discrimination Upheld

A schoolteacher´s award of £180,000 compensation for workplace disability discrimination has been upheld by an Employment Appeal Tribunal in London.

In November 2013, Philip Grosset (46) – the Head of English at Joseph Rowntree School in York – gave extra classes to a small group of fifteen and sixteen year old pupils to help them prepare for their IGCSE exams, despite suffering from cystic fibrosis and being under extreme stress. Shortly after, Philip was signed off from work due to his ill health, and his classes were taken by the headmaster of the school.

During one of the headmaster´s lessons, it was learned that Philip had shown pupils the X-rated slasher movie Halloween. Philip was suspended and sacked from his £46,000-per-year job in May 2014 for gross misconduct. Philip sought legal advice and made a claim for unfair dismissal due to workplace disability discrimination on the grounds the school did not do enough to accommodate his condition.

Although his claim for unfair dismissal was rejected by an employment tribunal in September 2015, the school was found guilty of workplace disability discrimination and – in December 2015 – ordered to pay Philip £180,000 compensation plus an additional award to be determined to reflect his loss of pension. On behalf of the school, the City of York appealed the decision and the award of compensation.

At the appeal hearing in London, the three appeal judges upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal. They ruled that, although the decision to dismiss Philip was fair, the school had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the needs of a teacher with cystic fibrosis. In addition to upholding the award of compensation, the judges ruled that the leadership team and governors at the school should undergo training in disability in the workplace.

Speaking after the Employment Appeal Tribunal´s ruling, Philip said: “It was appalling treatment of someone they knew was ill. I was really shocked by the treatment I got and disappointed by their reaction ever since.” Philip has now retired from teaching and works in IT while still waiting for his loss of pension award to be calculated.

Employers Warned against Blacklisting Employment Discrimination Claimants

Employers and recruitment agencies are being warned against using the government´s new tribunal database to blacklist employment discrimination claimants.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice launched a portal listing decisions in employment tribunal cases. The portal covers all areas of employment disputes in England, Wales and Scotland from age discrimination to maternity rights.

An unintended consequence of the portal is that employers and recruitment agencies can search the database of decisions to see if a prospective employee has previously made an employment discrimination claim.

Concerns have been raised by lawyers that employment discrimination claimants could be unfairly victimised and blacklisted, as the portal only gives the decisions in the claims and not the circumstances in which the claims were made.

The lawyers have warned that businesses who blacklist employment discrimination claimants could face employment tribunal cases against them if it is discovered that an employee has been refused a position because of a previous employment discrimination claim.

They refer to the court case brought against several leading construction companies who had blacklisted construction workers for their trade union connections or for raising health and safety concerns. The case was settled in May last year for more than £10 million.

Speaking with Recruiter magazine, Christopher Tutton – a London-based senior employment lawyer – warned employers and recruitment agencies to exercise caution if using the new portal to screen applicants and find out if they were previously employment discrimination claimants.

He said: “Recruiters need to be very careful about this as it could leave them exposed to claims of discrimination, victimisation or whistleblowing if they screen candidates for this reason.” Mr Tutton´s views were mirrored by commercial lawyer David Whincup, who added:

“If you find the individual you were thinking of recruiting has previously claimed discrimination, then a decision on that basis not to take their application further could run the risk of being unlawful victimisation.”

Claim for an Injury at a Ski Resort Resolved by Negotiation

A holidaymaker´s claim for an injury at a ski resort has been resolved by negotiation following court proceedings being issued against a ski lift operator.

In December 2010, twenty-five year old Tom Giddens was on holiday at the French ski resort of Val Thorens in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, when he and a friend got onto the ski lift with the intention of enjoying one final run of the day.

The ski lift stopped 200 feet from the top of the run and, as the two friends waited for the lift to restart, the temperature started falling. Tom – a student from Solihull in the West Midlands – rang the ski lift emergency number, but only got through to a message service in French.

After thirty minutes of waiting for help to arrive, Tom and his friend decided to jump from the ski lift. Tom´s friend lowered himself onto the bar of the ski lift and landed safely on the ground but, when Tom jumped, he landed badly and broke his leg.

Fortunately help arrived quickly, and Tom was taken to the resort´s medical centre on a bud wagon. After receiving preliminary treatment, he was transferred to Moutiers Hospital, where a metal pin was inserted into his leg to help the broken bone heal properly.

Tom returned to the UK five days later, where he spent five weeks recovering at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. He was discharged on crutches and subsequently underwent eighteen months of physiotherapy. Sadly, he never regained the level of fitness he had prior to the accident.

Tom sought legal advice and made a claim for an injury at a ski resort against the operator of the ski lift – Societe D’Exploitation des Telepheriques Tarantaise-Maurienne – on the grounds that there had been a lack of safety standards.

The ski lifted operator initially denied liability, but once court proceedings were filed he France, negotiations started to resolve the claim for an injury at a ski resort, and Tom´s case was eventually settled for an undisclosed five-figure amount.

Dozens Receive Compensation for Food Poisoning from Street Food

Dozens of visitors to Newcastle´s 2013 Street Spice Festival have received compensation for food poisoning from street food sold at the event.

At the end of February 2013, more than 12,000 people attended the Newcastle Street Spice Festival – a non-profit event organised by a local restaurant owner to raise funds for a brain tumour charity. Sadly, one of the sixteen stallholders was serving a chutney that had been prepared with raw curry leaves, causing over 400 visitors to suffer gastric illnesses.

Almost fifty of those most seriously affected by illnesses claimed compensation for food poisoning from street food, including twenty-nine that had suffered the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning. Other claimants suffered symptoms caused by E.coli and Shigella poisoning – some of whom still suffer the consequences of eating the contaminated chutney three years after attending the event.

All of the injury claims have now been resolved, with settlements of compensation for food poisoning from street food ranging from £1,200 to £29,000 depending on the severity and impact of the individual´s illnesses. In total, the settlements have cost the event´s insurers more than £400,000 – an amount they intend to recover from the vendor of the curry leaves.

Speaking after the last of the claims had been settled, festival organiser Bob Arora told his local newspaper: “We are pleased that the matter has now been settled. As a result of our reporting of the outbreak to the Environmental Health Office and cooperating with their investigation fully, the EHO has been able to suggest changes in legislation in the use of curry leaves in order to prevent any further instances of food poisoning.”

He added: “Prior to the outbreak, the use of curry leaves in cooking was an extremely grey area, with no indication that raw leaves would be harmful to anyone’s health. Although the curry leaves were washed thoroughly prior to use by the vendors it was unfortunate that the contamination remained. Hopefully now that it has been clarified.”

Court Issues £950,000 Fine for Employee Burn Injuries at KFC

Teesside Crown Court has issued fines totalling £950,000 for health and safety breaches that resulted in two workers suffering employee burn injuries at KFC.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has 880 restaurants in the UK – 235 restaurants owned by the company, and the remainder franchises. The company claims to have “robust processes and procedures” in place to protect employees from injury but, as Teesside Crown Court heard last week, these procedures were not implemented in two North-East restaurants, resulting in two employee burn injuries at KFC.

The two burn accidents at KFC were attributable to employees removing vats of hot gravy without being supplied with personal protective equipment. In the first case presented to Teesside Crown Court, Joshua Arnold (16) was scalded across both arms when a boiling vat of gravy spilled as he took it out of a microwave oven at Teesside Retail Park in July 2014. Rather than receiving first aid and an ambulance being called, he was told to put wet towels over his injury and sent to hospital alone in a taxi.

Eighteen months later at the Wellington Square KFC, Heather Storer was also burned by gravy as she removed a vat from a microwave oven. Heather suffered third-degree burns to her right arm, hands, chest and stomach. In both cases, long-sleeved gauntlets should have been provided by the company to prevent employee burn injuries at KFC. The court also heard that in both cases, neither employee had been given instructions on how to remove the vats of boiling gravy safely.

Commenting that the two cases were similar inasmuch as the employee burn injuries at KFC occurred as a result of “inadequate supervision and the inadequate provision of safety equipment”, Judge Sean Morris fined Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited a total of £950,000 for the two offences and ordered that the company pay £18,700 costs. He added: “It was lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just luck. Kitchens are dangerous places”.

Jaguar Land Rover Fined for Accident and Injury in a Manufacturing Plant

One of Britain´s largest vehicle manufacturers – Jaguar Land Rover – has been fined £900,000 for an accident and injury in a manufacturing plant.

On 8th February 2015, a Range Rover Sport vehicle was driven towards the start of the production line at the Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing plant in Solihull, West Midlands – an event that typically happens forty-eight times an hour during a normal working day.

However, on this occasion, the driver of the vehicle was covering a shift for an unwell employee, and was unfamiliar with the procedures for bringing cars onto the production line. He lost control of the vehicle and drove it into the back of a car he had previously delivered.

The collision resulted in a four-car shunt that trapped a colleague between the second and third cars on the production line. The colleague suffered devastating injuries to his right leg, which was later amputated above the knee. Two other employees were also injured in the accident.

The accident and injury in a manufacturing plant was investigated by officers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The officers found that Jaguar Land Rover had failed to ensure the driver of the Range Rover Sport vehicle was familiar with the procedures for bringing cars onto the production line, and that workers were not properly separated from the moving vehicles on the production line.

The company was prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for exposing its employees to the risk of injury. The hearing took place at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this week, where judges imposed a £900,000 fine for the accident and injury in a manufacturing plant and ordered Jaguar Land Rover to pay £49,800 costs.  Following the hearing HSE inspector John Glynn said:

“A worker has been left with life changing injuries that were completely avoidable, it was only good fortune that prevented this from being a fatal accident. Jaguar Land Rover knew the risks of driving vehicles onto production lines and the possibility of shunt accidents, but failed to protect their workers.”

MoJ Justifying Motor Accident Claims Policy on “Selective Data”

The Motor Accident Solicitors Society has accused the Department of Justice of using selective data to justify its motor accident claims policy.

The criticism of the mechanics being used to shape injury claims reforms was made by Simon Stanfield – the Chairman of the Motor Accidents Solicitors Society. In a recent press release, he claimed the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was cherry-picking data to suit its motor accident claims policy and ignoring the rights of motor accident casualties.

Mr Stanfield referred to the MoJ´s consultation paper on motor accident claims, in which it was stated that the number of reported accidents between 2006 and 2015 had fallen from 190,000 to 142,000 per year. Yet Department for Transport figures published last week in Parliament revealed that more than 500,000 accidents were unreported to the police between 2011 and 2015.

Saying that he was hugely disappointed that the MoJ was justifying its motor accident claims policy on “selective data”, Mr Stanfield commented that the Ministry had systematically chosen to ignore the Department´s best estimate of around 710,000 motor accident casualties (reported and unreported), and that these are real people who need insurers and lawyers to look after them.

He added: “What we need is evidence-based policy to tackle the issues in the claims sector, not continued attempts to ignore the evidence of the number of road casualties to suit its policy agenda. With the evidence now before Parliament in black and white, the MoJ must now acknowledge that its evidence base for these proposals is seriously and perhaps fatally flawed.”

The Department for Transport figures presented to Parliament last week were in response to a question by the Chair of the Transport Select Committee – Louise Ellman MP. They were based on hospital admissions and other collected data between 2011 and 2015, and estimated around 460,000 “slight” injuries were unreported each year, along with 60,000 serious injuries due to motor accidents.