A former police officer who made a claim in excess of £750,000 following a workplace injury has been awarded damages of just over £10,000 following the successful defence of the claim by Essex Police, represented by Clyde & Co.
Ms Jenkins suffered a knee injury when her supervising officer hid her mobile phone in a ceiling void. The Claimant climbed on a desk to retrieve it and fell hitting her left knee.
Following the incident, the Claimant was not fit for front-line duties, but was otherwise able to carry out all police functions. The Claimant submitted a claim of £758,000, alleging ongoing disability as a result of the incident.
As part of the investigatory process, we obtained surveillance evidence which demonstrated the Claimant's actual ability and level of amenity was significantly greater than alleged.
The parties were unable to agree a settlement before trial and the matter was heard at Central London County Court. The Claimant reduced her claim to £500,000 on the second day of the trial.
Essex Police was found to be vicariously liable for the actions of the officer who hid the Claimant's phone. However, Ms Jenkins' claim was subject to a one third deduction for contributory negligence, with the Judge commenting that it was a foolish act to climb on the desk. The Claimant had the opportunity to ask for help and failed to do so.
The Judge concluded that the knee injury sustained was not nearly as problematic as had been suggested by the Claimant in her evidence, and that she had recovered within two years of the accident. The Judge was also dissatisfied with the extent of symptoms alleged; several heads of loss including future loss of earning capacity, congenial employment and pension entitlement were disallowed in their entirety. Ms Jenkins was awarded just over £10,000 in damages.
The Claimant had previously rejected a Part 36 offer in the sum of £50,000 in April 2016. Accordingly the Defendant was awarded their costs from the last date for acceptance of the offer onwards. The Claimant was entitled to recover her costs incurred up until that date on the standard basis.
What can we learn?
- Behind the headlines of damages being awarded to the Claimant, this is a very successful outcome for our insurer client. The Claimant's significant damages claim was reduced substantially, with a further reduction for contributory negligence.
- The Claimant's failure to beat our Part 36 offer made as long ago as April 2016 resulted in the Claimant being responsible for paying the majority of the costs incurred by the Defendant.
- The claim predated the provisions of section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act and, as a result, dishonesty was not placed in issue by the Defendant. The judge did not find the Claimant to be dishonest, instead finding that she had grossly exaggerated her claim.
- Had this claim been subject to the provisions of section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act it would have been argued differently for the Defendant and the question of whether a finding of gross exaggeration would have been sufficient to amount to dishonesty would have been one the court would have had to address. The recent case of LOCOG v Sinfield gave the first substantial judicial guidance as to the test to be applied in cases where section 57 fundamental dishonesty is sought by a defendant.