Bar Brawl Imminent as Legal Aid Cuts Deepen Divisions

The second round of cuts to Legal Aid was never going to win many fans. Both the solicitors fighting claims cases and the victims bringing them will suffer. Of that, there seems no contestable doubt.

Perhaps what the government didn’t expect was for such strong resistance, to both the cuts and dual contracts, from established chambers. But that’s what they face over the coming days and weeks.

Earlier this week, the Criminal Bar Association decided that action in protest to the cuts was not the way forward. The decision surprised many as 96% of the CBA‘s members had previously voted to take action.

The Law Gazette’s article reports that when it came to the crunch, the executive committee called time on possible ‘strike’ action. Instead, they voted 34-to-11 against ‘forego[ing] work in opposition’ to either the legal aid reforms or the continuation of dual contracts.

Can the mould now be broken?

Now that the CBA has failed to stand up to government at all, the fear is that legal welfare will be decimated. At least that’s the view of Michael Mansfield QC, whose Mansfield Chambers has ‘broken rank’. The Chambers has called for an emergency meeting amongst the CBA’s membership, for which there’s already support.

The CBA has voiced empathy, acknowledging ‘the difficulty solicitors face’. Yet that they won’t actually do anything to resist the government will leave many members puzzled, if not isolated and vulnerable.

Mansfield Chambers is now questioning whether those who voted in favour of action had their hearts in it. Maybe the 96% hoped that the threat of action was enough to force the CBA’s hand, but the U-Turn stands for now.

If Mansfield Chambers gets the support of 50 members, the number it needs to call the emergency meeting they’re touting as ‘imperative’, the original threat of action may yet to turn to deed.

Is strike action a case of the law industry crying Woolf?

Mansfield’s mob is not only the breakaway bunch calling for a time-out to assess the depth of Legal Aid cuts, either.

Labour’s Dianne Abbott also warned of her fears of the Reforms’ impact in relation to availing access to aid for those who need it most. During her Fiona Woolf lecture, few were safe from criticism, including her own political party.

Dame Woolf herself addressed the need for diversity in the legal profession at the Chancery Lane venue. The former lord mayor and president of the Law Society made her business case for a broader representation in law from across society.

And this was precisely Abbott’s point. She stated that many High Street lawyers in Hackney and London, where she has her own aspirations to be mayor, are of the diverse ethnicity courts need to mirror society.

The cuts to Legal Aid not only threaten access to those solicitors for those with justifiable claims. But without those clients, lawyers’ very practices and livelihoods are also under threat.

HMCTS to shed 2½% of its workforce in one fell swoop (okay, maybe two)

And to round off today’s summary of cuts, perhaps the Courts’ Service has aspirations of leading by example, itself. With the Ministry of Justice under pressure to further trim the fat (by almost £250M), HM Courts and Tribunal Service has announced it’s shedding 400 jobs.

200 of those positions will go as a natural consequence of employees leaving or retiring. They won’t be replaced.

There’ll also be a voluntary exit scheme, which the MoJ hopes entices the other 200 excess staff to take ‘voluntary early departure’.

Earlier this week, Sir Leveson paved the way for a more efficient British criminal justice system. His keynote at the Modernising Justice Through Technology conference called for less paperwork, more digital case files.

This, unsurprisingly, was the exact reason a HMCTS spokesman gave for the job cuts. Smart move. Deflect the blow of job cuts to the Queen’s Bench and show lawyers that you’re practising what you preach? Now that’s fighting talk.

Smiler blame could take years; in India, 5k+ claims resolved in a day

World’s apart. In the UK, an eminent fellow opines over the future of Alton Towers’ fated rollercoaster. Yes, the ride could reopen. But blame would have to be found, proved and corrected. The moral dilemma of reopening the ride would be in the hands of Merlin Entertainment.

In India, a judge calls for drastic measures to shake up the process of motor accident compensation payouts. Two years is the average. On Saturday, the Lok Adalat, the People’s Court, resolved 5,075 cases in one sitting, some stretching back five or six years.

Staffordshire, England: Could Smiler rollercoaster reopen in time?

The real cause of the Alton Towers Smiler tragedy may not be known for several years. That’s according to Dr Tony Cox, who’s not discounting the ride opening again in the future.

Whether it does will depend on the evidence the HSE uncovers. The problem is, the scope is so wide.

Dr Cox, a fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, offered a pragmatic view of the job the investigators face. At this stage, the design of the ride, its mechanical function or, as is looking more likely, human error could have been the major contributory factor.

How the ride came to be life-threatening remains unclear for now. But the fellow said that, from his experience, if there’s a technical fault, the source normally surfaces in the end.

Getting into the nuts and bolts of the issue

Unlike human error, from a mechanical perspective there is a finite number of things that can go wrong. What Dr Cox wouldn’t be drawn on is how long it would take to check all of the conceivable failures.

Even then, unless the combination of factors points to a single cause, blame will be difficult to prove.

Once the fault is detected, and subsequently corrected, he said that physically there’s nothing stopping the rollercoaster operating in the future. The moral standpoint of reopening Smiler, he countered, was another question entirely.

With compensation claims from the four seriously injured passengers on the front row alone expected to run into millions, the financial cost of the ride may also impact Alton Towers’ decision to run “Smiler” again.

Bengaluru, India: Sweeping decision clear 10% of outstanding motor accident claims

And speaking of taking an eternity to process accident claims, there’s been an astonishing development in India, Bengaluru to be precise.

Last week, Judge Ch K Durga Rao spoke to The Hindu newspaper about the serious backlog of motoring accident claims rife in their region.

Contravening the Motor Vehicles Act (1988), many compensation claims were taking, on average, two years to get through the civil courts.

Part of the problem is the claims forms process. Not the actual original reports. But because there are ‘several agencies’ involved in getting a claim from the insurer to court, the time lapse has caused the Supreme Court to intervene.

Judge Rao, who’s the chair of the DLSA, wants the process expedited much quicker. That may come in the future, but the Lok Adalat, the People’s Court, were in no mood to wait that long on Saturday morning.

The Lok Adalat is a justice-carrying system developed in India. It offers mediation and resolution as an alternative to the courts. Every now and again, when such a bottleneck occurs in the court system, India will hold a national Lok Adalat.

On Saturday, they did just that. In all, over 5,700 claims were settled, roughly 10% of all of the state’s claims. The total payout was in the region of £8.5M.

So successful was this last court, different types of disputes will be handled in this manner every month.

So, if you’re in Bengaluru on July 11th and have a dispute with the Public Utility providers, make your way to the National Lok Adalat. You may get your dispute settled en masse, rather than wait for your claim to go to the official court.

Alton Towers: prosecutions expected over Smiler calamity

Instead of spending her 20th birthday in Tenerife as planned, rollercoaster crash victim Vicky Balch was in hospital. After having her legs crushed, but saved by NHS staff after being air-lifted to Royal Stoke Hospital, Vicky remains in a critical condition. Her injuries, whilst substantial, are not thought to be life-threatening.

Vicky was one of four people seriously injured in last Tuesday’s rollercoaster collision. Her boyfriend, Daniel Thorpe and first-time-daters Joe Pugh and Leah Washington (18 and 17, respectively) were the others on the front row of the ill-fated carriage.

I thought I was a goner

After 2½ suspended in mid-air awaiting rescue, Daniel also had to have emergency surgery. He was taken to University Hospital in Coventry, where staff operated on his broken leg and punctured lung.

Daniel is now stable. But he’s recounted that upon the approach to the ‘stuck’ carriage into which theirs piled, he thought he was a “goner”.

Joe Pugh, who suffered two broken legs, is also out of danger. He’s taken to twitter to thank everyone for their kind wishes and support.

17-year old has leg amputated

The youngest victim, Leah Washington, also went through the mill whilst waiting to be freed from crumpled carriage.

According to one witness, during her four-hour ordeal she fainted, had to have morphine and a blood transfusion whilst the emergency services did what they could for the stranded passengers.

The same witness told The Sun how “doctors and firemen were covered” in blood during the rescue attempt.

Unfortunately, their attempts weren’t enough to save one of Miss Washington’s legs, which has since had to be amputated.

She, like the Vicky Balch, now faces a tough rehabilitation battle ahead.

Alton Towers: not usually Fawlty

A spokesman for Alton Towers was quick to call upon Alton Towers’ “strong safety record”. However, their statement read that the accident was deeply regrettable.

Their priority now is to ensure that failsafes are tightened to ensure this never happens again.

Three other rides across the country have been closed until new measures are put into place. Saw (Thorpe Park), Dragon’s Fury and the Rattlesnake (both at Chessington World of Adventures) are closed until further notice.

Human Error as much to do with crash as mechanics

Since then, an ex-employee has come forward stating that human error is to blame, rather than mechanical.

Before a carriage is allowed n the track, its wheels have to be warmed up. In order to garner the traction needed, the carriages should contain water-filled dummies.

Three recent tests using empty carriages have seen them stuck in a similar manner to that which caused the Alton Towers tragedy.

In any event, the ex-employee related that there are 15 CCTV cameras that monitor the Smiler ride. Even if the test carriage did get stuck, staff should have spotted it.

Lawyers are due to meet with Merlin Entertainment, who own Alton Towers. As well as compensation, there is a strong possibility of criminal prosecution, according to one of the lawyers acting for one of the victims.

The investigation has been passed to the HSE for the time being.

Alton Towers reopened today for the first time since the tragedy. It has been reported that the park lost around £2.5M during its closure. That figure may well pale into significance once the clients’ compensation is decided in court.

Why holiday cover is about more than Factor 30

Recent Thomas Cook headlines surrounding the death of two young children in Corfu nine years ago have made grim reading. That image of the dilapidated boiler that leaked the carbon monoxide that overcame Christi and Bobby Shepherd in 2006 accompanying the media coverage? It’s a stark reminder that what we class as acceptable in the UK often misses the mark abroad.

As a result of such evidence, the Coroner’s Court in Wakefield ruled that the seven and six-year old children were unlawfully killed. Moreover, that the holiday firm had breached their duty of care.

CPS to re-examine the evidence

Although a Greek court acquitted Thomas Cook of any responsibility for the deaths in 2010, the Crown Prosecution Service is going to re-examine the evidence. Thomas Cook has stated that, with this verdict, a cross-examination was expected and that the firm will support any new examination.

Given the revelations on Watchdog last week, detailing the continued lack of care and attention Thomas Cook showed the grieving family after the event, that support may smack of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

The Greek court did make a conviction in this case. The manager of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel and two of the staff were convicted of manslaughter (via negligence).

However, it does beg the question:

who is responsible for your safety on a package holiday?

Providing you book through an accredited travel agent, the airline will cover you for all international flights. It’s not something they offer as a courtesy. There’s a statute in place that covers all international air travel: The Montreal Convention (1999).

For the vast majority of conceivable injuries, whether you’re actually in the air or grounded, The Convention covers passengers’ safety.

There’s a reason we say “provided you’ve booked through an accredited travel agent”. That’s because it’s they who have a Duty of Care for your travelling party, including luggage. Should mishaps occur, they’ll set about organising any compensation due, for which they themselves will be covered.

The travel operator’s Duty of Care doesn’t end when you disembark your flight. They accept responsibility for your welfare for the duration of your vacation.

Self-booking/Extreme Sports Vacations

Many people nowadays book their own flights and hotel accommodation. As such, you’re appointing yourself as your own tour operator, to a certain extent. Therefore it’s imperative you take out appropriate insurance to cover you for your time abroad.

For those who like whitewater rafting, snowboarding, ski-jumping – anything active that may incur greater risk – you should take out specialist insurance. As there’s greater risk of personal injury, so the cost of cover rises.

For now, we’ve got the NHS just a phone call away should anything go wrong at home. Most countries do not have such a health service, nor are they obliged to speak English.

Yes, the travel operator is ultimately responsible for your safety. But that doesn’t mean you should take everything for granted. Most of us only get one vacation a year. Don’t let an accident abroad ruin it for you.

Clinical Negligence Claims could be first Casualty of Higher Fees

Since Spring, there’s been a change to the way fees are calculated in civil court cases. Any claims brought in excess of £10,000 are subject to issue fees of 5% of the claim amount. This amount can in itself rise to £10,000, at which point it’s capped regardless of the size of claim thereafter.

The Law Society sees the increase in fees, imposed by the government on March 15th, as a barrier to justice for many. Not just for law firms. Many civilians with bona fide claims could see their case rejected because of how much capital a law firm already has tied up in its ongoing cases.

Legal Aid Truncation + Increased Fees = Less Access for All

Two years ago, changes to Legal Aid meant that access to representation for those who’d suffered at the hands of medicine became limited. The new changes may add further barriers to justice, as the increased issue fees put more duress on law firms’ finances.

Large clinical cases may now mean law firms having to lay out up to £10,000 to bring them to court. As medical claims can stretch back years and take an age to get through court, many fall into this high-value bracket.

If negligence is in doubt, or the defendant denies blame in order to test a claimant’s mettle (or pockets), law firms may be put off from taking cases on.

Even if they did take all cases on without question, there’s still a problem. Because of the new rules, lawyers could see swathes of capital tied up in existing court cases for indefinite periods. This will affect their cash flow and willingness to take on certain cases.

For smaller firms, the new legislation could take them beyond their business model. Possessing only the capacity to fund smaller claims, they may decide the claim business is simply not worth the hassle.

Funding your own claim just got harder, too

It’s not all about the injustice to solicitors. Under the previous rules, a percentage of claimants were able to fund their own fees.

As an example, a fee of 5% for a £200,000 claim is the maximum £10,000 cap. Before March of this year, associated fees for that size claim would have been a little over £1,500.

If a firm was unwilling to pay the fees for whatever reason, but the claimant could fund their case, £1,500 was not such a stretch. But to expect a member of the public to find £10,000 against this economy?

Perhaps only 5% of the populace could lay their hands on that type of cash to fight for justice without suffering financially if the result didn’t go their way. If ATE insurance was unattainable, that’s 95% of the UK left unable to fund a large medical negligence case if their criteria didn’t overcome the stringent Legal Aid hurdles.

If you fire enough shots, you’re bound to hit your target

Perhaps the move by the government, which applies to the whole legal section, is intended to make law firms think twice about the cases take on. Maybe it is intended to clamp down on the spurious soft tissue and whiplash accident claims.

But is strafing the field and destroying the crop just because there’s a weevil in there somewhere the right way to go? The government must acknowledge that the higher fees rule is barring access to justice for those who deserve it and must seek to correct it.

Is it worth jeopardising the lives of people who’ve already suffered at the hands of people who were supposed to make them well just to catch out charlatans who’d otherwise think twice about making a claim?

Social media evidence: slipshod irreverence or irrelevant snapshots?

The concept of insurers defending injury claims using social media evidence is not new. After all, the online public domain is like any other recorded medium for stalking monitoring, well, the public. It’s getting social ‘evidence’ to stick that’s always been the sticking point.

The lines blur between what’s considered private and public, thus what’s admissible as evidence. Also, questions arise about what we share via our public profile(s).

Do our facebook status updates reflect what’s going on in our offline life? Or is what we share a sham, keeping up a misguided pretence for those we would impress?

Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up…

It could well be that our vanity is our own undoing. Not only in court, but IRL, too.

For instance, when we share that shot from the racecourse when we were supposedly ‘ill’. To our friends and family, even some tolerant bosses, these instances are mere faux pas. Yes, you looked so ill as you collected on that 33/1 outsider that came in for you at Cheltenham. Mm, or not.

But what about when a judge or jury has to preside over such evidence? Should they take what they see literally? If someone’s smiling in a recent shot, then all must be good in their world, right?

The Camera Never Lies – or does it?

In the past, social media evidence hasn’t held much sway with judges. First, council has to prove potential relevance to a judge before they’ll order its use if it’s not in the public domain. Then the court has to prove that the content extracted is a true reflection of the plaintiff/defendant’s lifestyle for the qualifying period.

In countless cases, judges have dismissed the use of social media. Yes, individual shots may be posted to ‘[keep] up appearances’. But like the age old swan, the grace on the surface may not reflect any submerged turmoil.

In Canada, there has been a development, though. And it will serve as a warning for anyone making a claim who continues to use social, in this case facebook, whilst they’re ‘suffering’.

The case of Sarah Tombasso: consistently inconsistent

Sarah Tambosso purported herself as a once happy-go-lucky individual. In 2008, she was involved in the first of two car accidents that she used to build up her case for damages. The undisclosed amount was said to be in the region of ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’.

Her second car accident, in 2010, only served to aggravate the conditions from her previous collision. The conditions cited were PTSD and depression.

The result, according to her council, was that she’d turned into a ‘homebody’. Gone was the social butterfly she once was, the internet now the only engagement she had with friends. Moreover, she related to her psychiatrist that,

“I’m not a happy person. My life sucks.”

Not what the doctor ordered

The evidence gathered, however, portrayed a different lifestyle. As well as almost 200 pages from Tambosso’s facebook account, video surveillance was also submitted to the court to disprove her claim.

The defence gathered all manner of social activity as evidence. Partying, days out with friends, having a pop at karaoke; her facebook page was a trail of contradiction.

And that’s how the judge eventually ruled. There was so little consistency with the conditions she claimed the car accidents had instigated that the judge only awarded $36,000.

The case has gone to appeal. But as social becomes an ever greater part of our lives, we must consider the image our public self portrays. The cost of not doing so, as Tombasso discovered, could be very high.

Elderly at Risk as PPI and Accident Claims Calls Rise

A new initiative is being launched in South Wales to help to the elderly protect themselves against scam phone calls. The rise in the number of PPI claims has made auto-generated calls commonplace. But with firms exercising similar tactics in the accident claims market, the calls have become more than just a nuisance. So, specialist in care, Home Instead are trying to do something about it.

Many of the calls claims firms make are genuine. Acting upon information received, they are providing a public service. Letting victims know that they may be entitled to compensation can ease their suffering.

But there are firms who take this ‘tactic’ to the extreme. They buy databases that include the contact details of likely candidates, but have no real sense of duty in mind.

Nor do they possess any real sense of any injury or accident that could instigate a claim. They plug all the database info into a software program and let auto-dial do the rest.

Non-personalisation is becoming more than a nuisance

If it was simply a case of putting the phone down on the auto-generated message, we could live with it. But Home Instead, a national chain of homes for the elderly, have seen first hand where claims firms are going beyond ‘inconvenience’.

Some of the calls are placed by fraudsters with only one intention in mind: to get people to part with their debit or credit card numbers.

Many of us who’ve been brought up in the connected age know never to give this information out. Even banks and building societies forward messages saying that they’ll never ask for this info over the phone.

But some elderly victims are proving to be less acute at spotting bogus PPI and accident claims. They’re more trusting than millennials, making them prime prey for unscrupulous crooks.

The message is: never give your card details out unless you are 100% certain of the caller’s origin. If you’re in and around Swansea today, you’ll find the next Home Instead course at Reynoldston Village Hall between 2-3pm this afternoon.

What chance when the elderly are victims in their own home?

It’s not just over the phone that the elderly need to take precautions. In Sunderland last week, a care worker was found guilty of robbing a pensioner of almost £2,000.

Kate Watson was responsible for the ongoing care of a 74-year pensioner. And what she is guilty of just underlines how naive the elderly can be.

Kate would take the pensioner’s debit card and withdraw cash from the victim’s account for her own personal. It wasn’t as if the pensioner had placed her carer in a position of trust and asked Kate to withdraw money on their behalf.

The defendant told the court that the pensioner had left the PIN number ‘just lying around’. Finding the card, then matching the two had represented no barrier to the thief.

All told, Watson stole £1,911 from the elderly victim, and was ordered to repay the money. But at a repayment rate of only £40/month (and interest free), in this instance crime does seem to have paid.

Crash-for-Cash scam busted; Direct Line chasing £600k fraud case

One of the most elaborate ‘crash for cash’ scams uncovered by insurers has been derailed this week. In total, claims could have risen to £1.3M had all been paid out.

But Chester CID apprehended John Christopher Smith, MD of Swift Accident Solutions, before all of the 218 referrals received compensation.

Smith, of North Wales, is now beginning a six-and-a-half year jail sentence as the orchestrator of the scam. In all, Judge Andrew Blake convicted another 13 people for their part.

First Direct suspicious of similarity

First Direct first noticed a pattern when investigating a series of incidents involving First Group buses in and around Chester. The similarity was striking, and it was this similarity that drew suspicion.

In all, there were seven staged ‘crashes’. Drivers of vans or cars would wait for a scheduled bus to pull out then gently bump into it. The incidents happened at low speed and the driver of the van or car would admit liability.

How did that work, then? The ingenious part of the scam was that people on the bus itself were in on it. As soon as the collision took place, they would feign their injuries.

Whiplash and soft-tissue injury cited as the cause of injury

Soft tissue and whiplash injuries were the modus operandi. These were the obvious choice as such injuries are difficult to prove.

These scammers informed their GPs that they’d been in a collision and they’d then issue a sick note. The fakers would then take along their doctor’s note with the claim, Smith would refer them and collect the referral fee.

On average, Smith was pocketing around £900 per no-win, no-fee referral. 177 cases in all are adjudged to have been processed in this manner.

During the period that he was running the scam, a little over a year, it’s estimated he grossed £159,000. He was jailed on fraud and conspiracy charges that could have risen to over £1M if they’d gone unchecked.

Rachel Cooper, the last member of the gang to be tried for the scam, escaped a custodial sentence. The 32-year old from Great Sutton escaped with an 18-month suspended sentence.

She did, however, receive an order to undertake 250 hours unpaid work as a repayment of her debt to society.

£600,000 fraud case brought by Direct Line

Elsewhere, Max Clifford is once again in the media for all the wrong reasons. This time, however, it’s not the publicity guru in the dock.

Clifford was filmed in a coffee shop with Kevin Morgan, a former manager from Weybridge, who was himself under surveillance.

Morgan was in a ‘low impact’ accident in 2005. But the injuries he sustained have deteriorated to the extent that he can no longer live a normal life. Both psychiatrist and the original doctor’s statements seem to support Mr Morgan’s defence.

Direct Line, however, still became suspicious. Between 2009-2012, the insurers placed Morgan under surveillance.

On ten of those occasions, he was seen to leave the house. Any signs of the reported spasms in his neck didn’t materialise. Moreover, the prosecution commented that his demeanour in court was completely different to that on film.

Mr Morgan said that he has both good and bad days. It was on one of the good days that he was filmed in the coffee shop with Mr Clifford.

Whole livelihood on the line

Direct Line have now taken Morgan to court to try to claim £600,000 fraud, suggesting that the injuries the victim sustained have been exaggerated.

His defence is arguing that the evidence supports the ex-manager’s claim. Morgan can now only live a ‘retired lifestyle’, a far cry from the handyman he was before the accident occurred.

The limitations are such that Mr Morgan now exists within a 1,350ft radius from around his once ‘immaculate’ home. The meeting in the coffee shop falls within that territory.

Mr Morgan has also spoken out against Direct Line’s heavy-handed approach. He likened his treatment to being ‘on a murder charge’.

Despite the fact that he could lose his home if he’s found guilty of fraud, Morgan insists that he wants this opportunity to clear his name.

MoD awards £709,000 personal injury compensation award

Industry news roundup: week ended 6 April 2015:

Here’s one that’s going to make you question your sanity: the Ministry of Defence just paid out £709,000 in personal injury compensation for a case of bullying.

Now calm down, it’s not ‘just’ bullying in this case. True, this award amount dwarfs some payments made to Armed Forces members that were injured so badly in the line of duty that they came back from Afghanistan or Iraq missing limbs, but the circumstances surrounding the case are tragic.

It turns out that Cpl Anne Marie Ellement, aged 30, took her own life in Wiltshire at Bulford Barracks in 2011 following prolonged and systemic psychological abuse. The deceased corporal suffered from work-related despair and the lingering effects of a rape she had allegedly been subject to, all of which played a role in her suicide, according to a recent inquest. Kind of hard to get all cross with the MoD after that comes to light, doesn’t it?

Still, being injured in the line of duty and seeking compensation isn’t like making a typical work accident claim. The ministry has very strict and perhaps overly-complicated guidelines set down by Parliament. Meanwhile, there have been more and more of these bullying cases as related to the Armed Forces, and the Government announced late last year that there’s going to be an investigation into the matter in order to suss out how allegations of abuse are handled by the MoD.

The impetus for the new watchdog group? Cpl Ellement’s death. I’m hoping that at least the fact that this new watchdog was inspired by this poor woman that found herself driven to suicide could mean that other Armed Forces personnel might be spared the same incredible emotional pain and suffering.

The worst part is that much of this bullying behaviour comes not from the enemy but our own troops. It’s reprehensible, and makes me absolutely ashamed of being British. I absolutely pray that things get better, and that Cpl Ellement’s untimely death turns out to not have happened in vain.

As for the bastards that drove her into this nightmare, don’t even get me started. I’m sure they’ll eventually get deployed somewhere even hotter and more uncomfortable than the desert when they meet their maker and have to answer to their crimes.

Cathedral sues NHS after £130,000 accident claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 March 2015:

A £130,000 accident claim has prompted a cathedral to sue the NHS for not properly treating the foot of a worshiper who was injured on church grounds.

So much for ‘turn the other cheek:’ Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire has sought to recover some of the £130,000 it paid out to worshiper Christopher Shepherd in a personal injury compensation claim after the man tripped and broke his foot just a few days before Christmas 2008. What looked to be an open-and-shut case of the cathedral being liable for the man’s injury soon blossomed into a major issue after medical negligence caused his foot injury to worsen to the point where Shepherd is now consigned to a wheelchair as he now has the inability to walk more than 100 yards without difficulty.

Ripon Cathedral agreed to pay out on Shepherd’s personal injury claims in 2013, but has since decided to try to recover its costs by bringing suit against the NHS. According to court documents, apparently Shepherd consulted with doctors at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust twice – first on Christmas Eve 2008 and then again on January 13th of the New Year, but was only finally diagnosed properly on March 18th of that year. The cathedral’s personal injury lawyers say that the NHS doctors should be held responsible for not diagnosing Shepherd’s injuries properly causing a delay so long that the injured man needed surgical procedures to fuse the bones of his foot – an act that left him with severely diminished mobility.

Now this, to me, represents a perfect example of medical negligence. The poor bastard made two trips to see NHS doctors and both times he was simply brushed off. Meanwhile his foot simply got worse and worse until he needed the painful, mobility-limiting surgery.  For what it’s worth, the NHS had a serious role in the extent of Shepherd’s injuries and should pay the price.

I’m not saying that the cathedral is off the hook; the initial injury took place on cathedral grounds so there is at least a modicum of liability there. But if Shepherd had gotten the treatment he needed immediately instead of months afterwards, the results would have been much less painful for him – and that would have led to a much smaller legal bill for Ripon Cathedral!