Kendal Calling festival organisers sued over 'appalling injuries' to crane driver (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Kendal Calling festival organisers sued over 'appalling injuries' to crane driver
9:30am Thursday 17th November 2011 in Penrith news
THE organisers of the Kendal Calling music festival are being sued by the family of a crane driver who suffered an electric shock while setting up last year's event.
Donald Berry, 46, was delivering an accommodation unit to the festival site near Penrith in July last year when he hit the high voltage cable, suffering "appalling injuries", a court heard.
London’s Civil Appeal Court was told that he was so badly injured that it costs almost £170,000-a-year to look after him.
His brain was severely affected by the massive shock and Mr Berry, of Radcliffe, near Bury in Greater Manchester, has been left immobile, unable to communicate and needing 24-hour care at a neuro-rehabilitation centre which costs £464-a-day, or £169,360-a-year.
Through his wife Carol, he is now claiming multi-million-pound damages from Kendal Calling Ltd; festival safety managers, Piper Event Services Ltd; his employers at the time, Brandlesholme-based Star Autos Ltd, and Ashtead Plant Hire Co. Ltd, who supplied the accommodation units.
Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Longmore said Kendal Calling Ltd was not insured against the loss, although all the other defendants were, and Star Autos have already made a £100,000 "interim payment" to Mr Berry to help with the enormous costs of his care.
In July this year, a judge told Star Autos to make another interim payment of £75,000, and Ashtead Plant Hire was ordered to pay £175,000, pending a full hearing of Mr Berry's damages claim, which is not due to come to court until next summer.
However, Mr Berry and his legal team have now suffered a major setback after Appeal Court judges rejected arguments that he had "a cast iron case" against Ashtead Plant Hire and overturned the company's £175,000 bill.
Lord Justice Longmore said there was no evidence that either Star Autos, or Ashtead Plant Hire, failed to train Mr Berry properly or that they ought to have known that he was heading into an unsafe environment.
Mr Berry had delivered accommodation units to the festival site before, when "nothing had gone wrong", and the judge observed: “The whole case is too fact sensitive to justify the court in being satisfied that either Ashtead, or Star Autos, must be liable".
He added: "It may well be said that since, on any view, Mr Berry as a trained professional, was more in de facto control of the crane mounted on his lorry than his employer . . . it was Mr Berry's own breach that was causative of his injury rather than any breach by Star Autos or Ashtead."
Kendal Calling organisers declined to speak to The Westmorland Gazette about whether the future of the festival will be in jeopardy if the claim was successful.
The case will be tried next summer.
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