Man injured while working on London theatre set launches £200,000 bid for compensation
A Swansea man who hurt his back while working as an assistant stage manager on a production of The Railway Children at a London theatre has launched a High Court legal battle for compensation of more than £200,000.
A writ issued at London’s High Court and just made publicly available says that Jack Roberts, 26, was underneath the stage, lifting sections which had sunk, when an individual walked across the piece he was lifting.
A colleague had been acting as a spotter to make sure no-one walked across the stage as he lifted, but she had left as most of the job had been completed, according to the writ.
It says that Mr Roberts suffered immediate pain in his back after the accident on October 13 2017, and a scan later showed he had an annular tear in his lumbar vertebrae, leading to lessened movements and tenderness in his lower back.
He was treated with spinal injections, as well as physiotherapy, massage and Pilates, but remains in significant pain every day. He was also told he might have to consider surgery in future.
Now Mr Roberts, of Groundsman Cottage, Fairwood Playing Fields, Upper Killay, Swansea, is suing his former employers Theatre Tracks Ltd, of Tavistock Square, London WC1.
In his writ he accuses the company of negligence, and says it failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment, failed to take care to ensure he was reasonably safe, allowed people to walk across the stage when it was unsafe, and failed to provide him with a safe place and system of work.
Mr Roberts went on to develop psychiatric symptoms, including low mood, anxiety, depression, nightmares, and flashbacks, and was prescribed anti-depressants. He undertook some counselling, and says his employment has been affected by his injuries.
The company’s insurers admitted liability after the accident at the King’s Cross Theatre in London’s King’s Cross the writ says.
But Theatre Tracks in defence documents says that although it admitted breach of duty, the cause of the accident remains an issue, and accuses Mr Roberts of causing the accident by his own negligence.
It says he negligently failed to proceed with care, failed to have due regard for his own safety, failed to lift in a safe manner, and took the weight of the stage on his back and shoulders knowing he exposed himself to a risk of injury.
The company also claims that Mr Roberts negligently insisted on bearing the weight of the infills himself, rather than adjusting bolts, which put him in the position of possibly being exposed to risk of injury.
It disputes that he has a realistic expectation of winning damages of more than £200,000, and says he was paid in full before his contract ended in January 2016.
His work record after the accident shows that he was not unemployable, and earned more than he had with Theatre Tracks when he worked on the Billy Elliott tour and Matilda from December 2017, the defence says.
It adds that his ability to work on various productions since the accident show he is not disadvantaged on the labour market, and disputes that he is entitled to more than £100,000 he is claiming for the cost of future care and services.