Paralysed man wins legal fight in £6m ruling
A former RAF serviceman paralysed in an accident at an It's a Knockout-style "Health and Fun Day" eight years ago has won his long battle for compensation – which could run up to £6 million.
Senior Aircraftman Robert Uren, of Camborne, Cornwall, was 21 when he broke his neck diving what was said to be head first into a shallow ball pond in an inflatable pool during one of the games at the event at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in July 2005.
His multi-million pound damages claim was originally dismissed in 2010 by a High Court judge who said risk assessments were inadequate but the game was reasonably safe and there was no breach of a duty of care.
Then, Mr Justice Field ruled that a "small risk" should not threaten "enjoyable" games which are an "important and beneficial part of the life".
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But the following year the Court of Appeal reversed the ruling, resulting in a retrial before a different High Court judge.
Announcing the result of the second trial yesterday, Mr Justice Foskett, sitting in London, said Mr Uren had succeeded in his claim against Corporate Leisure, the company that supplied the equipment, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), his employers, who commissioned the programme of events.
Mr Justice Foskett said steps could have been taken to ensure safety without "spoiling" the game.
He said: "This was a responsibly organised day that, sadly, ended in a tragedy that could and should have been avoided."
The amount of damages to be paid to Mr Uren will now have to be assessed by the court if not agreed.
The judge also said that "the question of the apportionment of liability as between the two defendants will have to be resolved by the court if it cannot be agreed".
Mr Uren, who joined the RAF at 18, was taking part in a relay race in which services personnel had to run up to the inflatable pool, get in over the side and grab a piece of plastic fruit floating in or under a shallow depth of water.
After going into the pool head-first, he fractured his spine in three places, sustaining damage to the spinal cord, rendering him tetraplegic.
Mr Justice Foskett emphasised that his decision "represents no kind of threat to leisure and sports events of the type concerned".
It had been argued that the tragedy that befell Mr Uren was a freak accident occurring in unique circumstances for which no-one was to blame.