Payout for councillor hurt in airport slip

PUBLISHED: 14:34 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:35 31 May 2010

A COUNCILLOR who says her vast collection of shoes was made useless by injuries she suffered in a fall at Stansted Airport has won the right to a substantial damages payout. Uttlesford District Councillor Tina Knight, 66, of Thaxted Road, Saffron Walden,

A COUNCILLOR who says her vast collection of shoes was made useless by injuries she suffered in a fall at Stansted Airport has won the right to a substantial damages payout.

Uttlesford District Councillor Tina Knight, 66, of Thaxted Road, Saffron Walden, slipped in a pool of water in the baggage claim area of the airport in July 2005.

As well as injuries to her knee, hip and thumb, she suffered a fracture of her right little toe, making it very difficult for her to wear her favourite high-heeled shoes.

In June, she was granted the right to a payout from the airport's cleaning contractors, Rentokil Initial Facilities Services (UK) Ltd, and today saw that decision upheld at the Court of Appeal.

At Cambridge County Court earlier this year, she expressed her distress that her injuries meant she was unable to wear "normal court shoes".

"I love to wear high-heeled shoes," she added in a witness statement. "I have about 200 pairs of shoes, but I can no longer wear them."

Ms Knight had been returning to the UK from a trip to northern Cyprus, where she was due to embark on a business venture selling studio apartments, when she suffered her accident.

She is claiming tens of thousands of pounds in damages for the injuries and for loss of earnings during the weeks in which she was incapacitated after her slip.

In June, a judge sitting at the Cambridge court ruled that Rentokil Initial Facilities Services (UK) Ltd, as the company charged with maintaining the cleanliness of the airport, was "primarily liable".

Giving his ruling, the judge said the system of cleaning was "inadequate" because it lacked "additional inspection" of the baggage reclaim area.

Today, Mark Diggle, for Rentokil, argued that the judge's decision was wrong, because he had imposed "too high a standard of care" on the company.

"In considering the system employed, the judge failed to take account of the unchallenged evidence that the cleaners carried mobile phones and could be contacted to deal with a spillage at any time," he told the Appeal Court.

"Further, once contacted, they would arrive at the spillage in no more than two minutes."

There had been only five accidents in the entire year 2005 and the judge should have inferred from that statistic that the cleaning system was "reasonable", he added.

But, refusing Rentokil permission to appeal, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Moore-Bick said the challenge had "no prospect of success".

Unless final settlement terms are agreed in the meantime, the amount of Ms Knight's payout will have to be assessed at another court hearing.


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