Published in Lawtel January 2020
Total Damages: £30,000 (£31,832.06 RPI)
PSLA: £20,000 (£21,221.37 RPI)
Trial/settlement date: 29/9/2017
Type of Award: Out of Court Settlement
Court: Out of Court Settlement
Age at trial: 38
Age at injury: 35
The claimant, a 38-year-old woman, received £30,000 after slipping on milk on a restaurant floor in August 2015 and as a result spilling hot tea on her arm and wrist, although liability was disputed. She suffered permanent scarring and, for approximately 12 months, an exacerbation of a pre-existing general anxiety disorder.
Occupiers’ Liability: The claimant (C), aged 35 at the date of the accident and 38 at the date of settlement, suffered a scalding injury to her wrist and forearm and an exacerbation of a pre-existing general anxiety disorder when she slipped on milk on the floor after purchasing a cup of tea from an employee of the defendant (D) in a restaurant operated by D on 5 August 2015. The tea was provided without a lid and as C turned she slipped on the milk which had come from a carton there. To avoid spilling the tea over her baby while unbalanced, C tipped the cup backwards on to her right wrist and arm.
C sustained injury and brought an action against D alleging that it was negligent in (i) causing or permitting a spillage of milk and a milk carton to be present and remain on the floor; (ii) failing to fence off the dangerous area within the customer dining area; (iii) failing to institute or enforce any adequate system for the cleaning and inspection of the dining area; (iv) failing to give any warning or display a caution sign that was visible to her; (v) failing to provide a secure lid for the hot tea; (vi) giving the hot tea directly to her without a lid when it was unsafe to do so; (vii) failing to implement any system of inspection of the cups of hot drinks, adequately or at all, before passing them to customers. Liability disputed. D contended that they operated a reasonable system of inspection and cleaning by way of a clean-as-you-go policy and employing a front-of-house staff member, tasked with cleaning the floor and who was cleaning some spilled milk a metre away from where index accident occurred. Further, D denied the cup of tea was provided without a lid, contending staff were trained to warn customers that the drink was hot and to ensure lids were provided in a secure fashion.
C was taken to hospital by ambulance. The scalded area was initially raw and blistered. It was dressed and the wound was de-roofed. The burn healed over time but C was left with a scar. The general anxiety disorder persisted for approximately 12 months after the accident.
C was left with permanent, ill-defined flat scarring measuring approximately 15cm by 8cm with altered pigmentation, brown and red discolouration which was variegated in pattern. In January 2016 a plastic surgeon examined the scar and believed that it would improve up to 18 months after the accident but that it would never disappear. The expert thought that C would always be left with some residual scarring and altered pigmentation. No treatment such as physiotherapy, laser or use of compression garments were recommended as it was not believed that such treatment would improve the scarring. However, the plastic surgeon recommended that professional camouflage make-up could be applied if C became over-conscious of the scarring. This was supported by a skin camouflage expert who believed that the use of relevant products and techniques would generally improve the appearance of the scarring.
Out of Court Settlement: £30,000 total damages
The case was settled on a global basis with no particular breakdown of damages. However, the following breakdown was estimated by the claimant’s solicitors:
Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £20,000.
Simmons v Castle  EWCA Civ 1288 10 per cent uplift: applied.
Background to damages: Split liability of 70 per cent in C’s favour was agreed factoring in litigation risk of proceeding to trial.
Total injury duration: permanent
Express Solicitors Ltd (Manchester) for the claimant.
This Quantum Report was provided courtesy of Ghazaala Kausar of Express Solicitors Ltd, solicitors for the claimant.
Document No. AM0203600