Goodall (CICB: Quantum:1999), RE
G, male aged 33 at the date of the incident and 54 at the date
of assessment, sustained a lower back injury while in the course
of his work as a police dog handler in October 1977. A laminectomy
was performed and G was found to have a major disc protrusion at
L5/S1. G was hospitalised for five weeks and absent from work for
seven months. Thereafter G returned to work but continued to experience
residual pain and discomfort. G received an award from the CICB
of GBP 950. In January 1985 he noticed acute pain in his lower back
and as a result was forced to transfer to CID. He received numerous
facet joint blocks which provided him with tempoary pain relief.
He also underwent facet joint denervation. By the end of 1985 G
had deteriorated further and was unable to work at all. In March
1986 he was readmitted to hospital with severe back pain and sciatica.
In October 1986 a large central disc protrusion at L4/5 was removed
and in order to relieve his leg pain the right L5/S1 discs were
divided. G was left with right foot drop, significant back pain,
sciatica and sensory disturbance around L5. In 987 G was medically
retired from the police force. Between 1987 and 1995 G continued
to suffer continuos and acute pain. His injuries prevented him from
doing any of the activities he had enjoyed prior to the incident.
He would spend most of his time in bed due to the pain and used
a wheelchair. He was unable to perform any transfers from either
his bed or his wheelchair. He was prescribed high doses of morphine
and other strong analgesics. In 1993 he was admitted as an emergency
suffering from medication induced "zombie" like state. He received
an epidural catheterisation of morphine which provided pain relief
for one month. Repeat epidurals however proved unsuccessful. G then
suffered a cardiac infraction. In April 1995 a spinal cord stimulator
was inserted at his lower thoracic level. The mechanism did not
alter the permanency of G's condition but allowed him to be completely
pain free. At the date of assessment he was able to drive an adapted
car, and walk a maximum of 15 yards if necessary. The CICB considered
that G had been through a traumatic and painful existence up until
the spinal cord stimulator had been implanted.
Held, he had been a highly decorated dog handler who they accepted
would have completed his 30 years service and then would have had
a successful career outside the police force. He had received various
treatments including acupuncture, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, formal
rhizolysis, cortisone blocks, Catheterisation and three operations
on his spine. General Damages: GBP 40,000. Award for loss of congenial
employment: GBP 5,000. Past loss of earnings award: GBP 5,529. Award
for past care: GBP 30,000. Award for past medical care: GBP 3,000.
Award for past expenses: GBP 31,196. Future care award: GBP 9,000.
Award for future expenses: GBP 39,000. Total award: GBP 158,725
(less GBP 90,000 deductions).
Judgment: May 133,199
Judges: Chairman: C Whitby Q.C.
Ex rel: Paul Cairnes, Barrister, 3 Paper Builldings at Bournemouth,
Lorne Park Road, Bournemouth.
Case No: 77300
Walsh v William Morrison Supermarkets Ltd
Court: CC (Worcester)
Held, W, male, HGV driver aged 39 at the date of accident and 43
at the date of trial, was delivering produce to D's premises when
a wooden walkway gave way. W's left leg went through causing him
to sustain a fracture of the endplate of the left side of L5 vertebra,
Described as a relatively minor fracture. He had suffered chronic
pain ever since and had been unable to resume his pre-accident employment.
There was some history of pre-accident back trouble but his last
related medical attendance had been eight years prior to the accident.
W's medical evidence was, given his previous history of back trouble,
that it would have been probable, had the accident not occurred,
That W would have had further bouts of pain necessitating periods
away from work. However, W would not have been prevented from working
until normal retirement age. At the time of trial W suffered from
disturbed sleep two or three times a night. On walking, after 20
minutes of standing, the pain became more intense. On some days
he would have to be helped by a neighbour to dress and put on his
shoes and socks. He could not work full time. The judge held that
there was no residual earning capacity. He was taking three different
types of pain relieving drugs on a regular basis, which relieved
the pain but did not take it away completely. He had been hospitalised
on occasions for injections of morphine. W's consultant gave evidence
to the effect that W was suffering from a chronic back pain syndrome,
a genuine condition which was unusually incapacitating. General
Damages: GBP 16,500. Past loss of earnings: GBP 53,777; Future loss
of earnings (multipier 11): GBP 153,359; Total award: GBP 229,545.
Judgment: September 30, 1997
Judges: Judge Cavell
Ex rel; DL Green, Parkinson Wright, Solicitors, Haswell House,
St Nicholas Street, Worcester.
Case No: 55387
Eardley v North West Anglia Health Care NHS Trust Jurisdiction:
Court: (QBD) Queens Bench Division
Held, E, female, aged 40 at the date of trial, was injured while
lifting a patient in the course of her employment as a nurse. The
precise nature of the injury was in dispute at the trial but the
deputy judge found that E had suffered a prolapse of the L4/5 intervertebral
disc with damage to tissues and nerve roots, producing loss of sensitivity
in the left lower leg as well as severe back pain and loss of function.
Treatments included traction, physiotherapy, injections (including
one epidural), use of a Trans-Cutaneous Electrical Stimulation machine
and analgesics. No treatment resulted in any lasting benefit. E's
condition was not improved by the date of trial and was expected
to be permanent, although there was a possibility of some spontaneous
minor improvement. The deputy judge found that she was subject to
"constant gnawing pain" across the lower back and down the left
leg. She was unable to sit or stand in the same position for any
length of time and experienced shooting pain when she extended her
step, and sometimes for no apparent reason. She could not run or
walk briskly. E sometimes needed help from one of her teenage sons
to get out of bed in the morning. She was easily exhausted, particularly
by any departure from her normal routine. She could only drive for
about 25 minutes at a time, was unable to undertake heavy shopping,
housework or gardening and had to abandon DIY. She could not stand
for long in the kitchen, had lost the pleasure of cooking and was
reliant on convenience foods. Prior to the accident, she had been
a keen and accomplished swimmer, thereafter she could only swim
breaststroke, and that at a "plodding " pace. E had not worked since
the accident save for some part time work at home taking telephone
calls as part of a charity help line service over approximately
fours months, during which she earned GBP 600. There was no prospect
of her returning to the job market. She hoped to read for an Open
University degree, starting in 1998. As a consequence of her injuries,
her relationship with her partner broke up as did a subsequent association
with another man. Her symptoms were such that she faced a lonely
future. General Damages: GBP 37,000. Award for loss of congenial
employment: GBP 6,000. Special damages (agreed). GBP 43,570. Future
loss of earnings: GBP 143,695 (multiplicand GBP 15,094, multiplier
9.52). Future expenses: GBP GBO 10,700 (multiplier 9.52). Loss of
pension rights: GBP 22,000. Total award (including interest): GBP
271,528. [Note: appeal settled on terms that combined award for
general damages and loss of congenial employment of GBP 43,000 was
reduced by GBP 5,000].
Judgement: June 27, 1997
Judges: JM Collins Q.C.
Ex rel: Anthony Snelson, Barrister, Thomas More Chambers, 51-52
Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn, London.
Case No: 52286.
Dominey v Amenco (poole) Ltd
Court: (QBD) Queens Bench Division
Reported: (1999) 99(4) Q.R.3
Held, D, male, sales development manager, aged 41 at the date of
accident and 47 at trial, fell down unlit office stairs. An MRI
scan four months later showed disc protrusion at L4/5. A discectomy
undertaken a month after the scan was only partly successful, probably
due to development of fibrosis in the disc space and around an adjacent
nerve root. D suffered chronic low back pain and discomfort which
radiated into his left leg and was aggravated by prolonged sitting,
standing, walking and driving. He was unable to lift, garden, carry
out any DIY or play golf any longer and he needed help in dressing
and bathing. D had also suffered from a mood disorder, characterised
by chronic depressed mood, diminished interest, social withdrawal
and sleep disturbance, but following counseling and anti-depressant
medication that condition had largely resolved by trial. D had a
history of episodic low back and neck symptoms dating back to a
road traffic accident, some 13 years before the accident in issue,
which required regular visits to a chiropractor but had not interfered
with work or social life. Because of the pre-existing condition
D would probably have had to retire at 60 in any event. After being
dismissed on health grounds two years after the accident, D had
not worked, although it was agreed that he was fit for part time,
and possibly full time, semi-sedentary work. General Damages: GBP
17,500. Past loss of earnings award: GBP 67,571. Past care award:
GB 5,000. Future loss of earnings award (multiplier 10): GBP 161,373.
Future loss of company benefits award: GBP 20,000. Loss of pension:
GBP 23,000. Future care award: GBP 15,000. Award for loss of ability
to garden and DIY: GBP 7,000. Total award: GBP 334,169.
Judgment: February 16,1999
Judges: Ronald Walker Q.C. sitting as deputy High Court Judge
Ex rel: Anthony Coleman, Barrister, Winchester Chambers, 4 St
Peter Street, Winchester, Hampshire.
Case No: 70237
The Personal and Medical Injuries Law Letter - June 200
Repeated hospital back injury
Douglas v Greenwich Health Authority (settlement)
A former intensive care has accepted one of the highest ever compensation
settlements for workplace back injury from an NHS Trust, after two
hospital back injuries left him unable to work. The award of £803,515.08
included £30,00 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
Karl Douglas, a 28-year-old staff nurse from kent, employed by
the Greenwich Health Authority at the Brook Hospital in East London,
Had to give up his career in 1992 when he injured his back while
lifting a patient. The patient, who weighed 12 stone, should have
been lifted by a mechanical hoist costing £3,500, but none was available
on the ward. Mr Douglas had to lift the patient manually with just
one male colleague, even though at the time it was recommended that
four people should lift a patient.
It is now recognised that the right equipment should always be
used. Mr. Douglas had already injured his lower back lifting a patient
on the same ward six months previously, but on the second occasion
he tore a disc in his lower vertebrae which left him in permanent
pain. Surgeons were unable to operate to give him relief for three
years because they could not trace the exact source of the pain.
Mr. Douglas left nursing and found even desk jobs impossible. He
suffered intermittent urine retention, requiring regular catheterisation
and found it difficult to dress himself, bathe or drive. He was
forced to spend money on home improvements to accommodate his disability,
including a special shower and ground floor toilet. Active in sports
before the accident, he was now unable to sit for long periods and
was forced to leave a sales job because of the discomfort in driving.
Without work, he became dependent on his parents and benefits for
living expenses. He became depressed, even contemplating suicide.
At the time of the accident, Mr. Douglas had eight years experience
as a qualified nurse and would have been likely to progress in his
Christine Hancock, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing,
which negotiated the settlement, said: "There is no reason for these
accidents to happen. Karl was a highly valued and experienced nurse
working in intensive care. Quite apart from the personal tragedy
of a nurse losing his career, the NHS has lost a dedicated ICU nurse.
We now know that manual lifting of patients is always dangerous
- employers have no excuse to avoid investment in the right training
An expert witness reported that the hospital had no working health
and safety policy for lifting, nor did staff receive adequate training
or have access to safe equipment for patient handling. The ward
already had a high level of back injuries in the previous six months.
More than 11 million working days are lost each year due to back
pain, costing industry more than £5 billion. Since 1996 the Royal
College of Nursing's Safer Patient Handling Programme has worked
towards the elimination of manual lifting of patients. Studies have
shown that in any year 45% of nurses have back problems. (j. Smedley
et al., Institute of employment, Southampton university, 1995).
The Department of health and the Health & Safety Executive are running
a campaign Back to Work to reduce the level of back injury
Royal College of Nursing
Badger Grey Paper Index
Negligence; Personal Injuries; Police
Met ordered to pay GBP 384,000 for employee's back injury.
The Metropolitan Police has been found negligent and ordered to
pay GBP 384,497 in damages to a clerical worker after she injured
her back lifting heavy boxes of stationary from an outside yard
to a third floor storeroom, due to a lack of training, equipment
and assistance from police officers.
Author: Helen Johnstone
Times, September 17, 1999, 3.
Also reported in Ind, September 17, 1999, 5; D Tel, September
17, 1999, 3.
Legal Journals Index
Back; Clinical negligence; Diagnosis; Measure of damages; Medical
Accident at work: back injury - failure to facilitate a proper diagnosis:
failure to monitor/treat.
Settlement of GBP 385,000 in Ritchie v Ministry of Defence for
failure to diagnose or treat back injury properly and to monitor
effects of claimant's continuing duties on its severity, which led
to discharge and permanent back injury.
Acn No: 333969
Personal and Medical Injury Law Letter 2000, 16(9), 6-7.