News Flash: General Damages for Methanol Exposure

Barnaby recently appeared on behalf of the Claimant in the matter of Brady v Detect Fire & Security Ltd (LTL Doc. AM0505427, December 2018).

The Claimant, an installer of fire alarms, was assigned by the Defendant, his employer, to a fitting assignment at the site of a third party, a company specialising in the manufacture and storage of contact lenses.

The Claimant was working in a room storing a number of contact lens in vats containing a mixture of ethanol and methanol (‘the clean room’). Although the Claimant was provided with protective clothing, this did not include breathing apparatus or a face mask.

Whilst positioned on a ladder in the clean room over one of the vats, the Claimant began to feel extremely unwell, experiencing severe stomach pains, profuse sweating, light-headedness and confusion.

The Claimant descended the ladder and drove himself to hospital accident and emergency where he was diagnosed with acute methanol poisoning. He developed severe stomach cramps associated with pain and vomiting with a pain score of 7 out of 10 which was at its worst for the first 24 hours following the incident. He was discharged from hospital a following day after admission.

The Claimant completely recovered from stomach cramps, pain and vomiting within a further two days. His dizziness and light headaches had fully resolved within 48 hours of the incident and confusion within 12 hours. He was unable to work or attend the gym for 72 hours after the incident.

The Court, when considering the issue of general damages, noting the absence of suitable comparable cases on the point awarded £1,200, having in mind the JC Guidelines pertaining to Chapter 6(G)(b)(iv) pertaining to varying degrees of disabling pain, cramps and diarrhoea continuing for some days or weeks.