Pupil wins damages for broken ankle

12th November 2004 at 00:00
It's a tale of two school sports injuries as one family loses its legal battle but another is awarded pound;6,500.

A former schoolboy who broke his ankle during a PE lesson on the playing field has been awarded pound;6,500 damages.

Ryan Thomson was 16 when he twisted his foot in a hoof print left by a horse on the field at Lutterworth grammar school in 2001.

His parents decided to sue Leicestershire county council the following year, claiming that the lesson should not have taken place because school staff were aware of the state of the field.

A judge sitting at Nuneaton county court ruled that the local authority had been negligent, and awarded the damages. The council denied negligence and breach of statutory duty.

A council spokesman said: "We are disappointed, but where we think it is appropriate to defend cases, we will do so. This was one where we thought we had a reasonable chance of success.

"Schools and colleges already carry out risk assessments and inspections of playing fields to identify potential problems. In this case the PE teacher had carried out an inspection of the football pitch area prior to the lesson, but didn't observe any hoof marks."

Chris Henstock, principal of Lutterworth grammar, suspended lessons after the accident, but said the teacher concerned had taken all reasonable steps to check the fitness of the playing field.

"It was difficult to see the damage that the horse had made unless a microscopic inspection of the pitch was made," he said. He appealed for the public not to use school playing fields to exercise animals or play golf, because divots taken out of the ground "could have similar repercussions to the traumatic impact they have had on this young man's life".

Ryan Thomson had his leg in plaster for seven weeks following the accident, and had to undergo a course of physiotherapy.

Pauline Town, Leicestershire NUT spokeswoman, said: "It is a worrying sign of the times that these sorts of challenges are facing teachers more and more.

"I want to make a plea to the legal profession. There appears to be a growing number of legal eagles jumping on the bandwagon - some claims of which are frankly ridiculous."

Last Word 32

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