London

Ex-pupil loses cut foot case against Beckenham school

  • 16 November 2012
  • From the section London

A former student who sued her south London school after she cut her foot has lost her Court of Appeal case.

Emma Richards, then 15, needed five stitches after a door at Langley Park School for Girls in Beckenham, Bromley, closed on her foot in February 2007.

But Appeal judges ruled that "not every misfortune occurring on school premises attracts compensation".

Her lawyers said the school had failed to take necessary steps after a similar incident had taken place in 2006.

Remedial action 'reasonable'

The judges had earlier heard that in October 2006 a student had suffered a minor injury to her heel when the same door hit her foot.

The incident was reported and a decision was made by the school to raise the height of the step, with the work scheduled for Easter.

But in February 2007 Miss Richards needed stitches after the "door closed into contact with the back of her left heel", the court heard.

Her lawyers argued that "steps could and should have been taken" soon to "prevent a recurrence", but Lord Justice Tomlinson was unconvinced.

He said: "The trivial nature of the earlier incident and the risk which it brought to light, seen in the context of 30 years safe use of the doors by thousands of children and staff, rendered reasonable both the nature of the remedial action which the school authorities proposed to take and the timescale within which they proposed to do it."

Lord Justice Tomlinson, who sat with Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Munby, acknowledged that the claimant had suffered a "nasty laceration".

But he added: "She has my sympathy. Sympathy however is an insufficient basis on which to subvert the law of tort.

"It needs to be understood that not every misfortune occurring on school premises attracts compensation."

A county court had thrown out a damages claim by Miss Richards in January.

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