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Spencer V. Wincanton Holdings Notes

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SPENCER V. WINCANTON HOLDINGS FACTS The defendant appellant employed the claimant respondent as a shunter-driver at its premises. In March 2000 the respondent injured his right knee at work which was caused by the appellant's employee's negligence. Liability was admitted for the injury to the respondent's knee and the subsequent complications that developed which resulted in an above the knee amputation in February 2003. He was fitted with a prosthesis, but pending further adaptations to his car, it could not be worn whilst driving. On October 14, 2003 the respondent pulled into a petrol station and filled his car with petrol without wearing his prosthesis or using his sticks. He tripped and fell and suffered further injury that resulted in him becoming wheelchair dependent. The respondent claimed damages from the appellant for the additional disability caused by the second accident. HOLDING The court held that the chain of causation is only broken in cases where the subsequent injury resulted from the reckless or unreasonable act of the claimant - in such cases, the claimant is not liable for the second injury. However, in cases where the claimant cannot be said to have been acting unreasonably, the defendant is responsible for the second injury - though the claimant may be partly responsible for contributory negligence. For my part I see no good reason to go behind or beyond the judge's own measured evaluation of this element of the case. If the judge had found Mr Spencer principally to blame, the case might have been closer to McKew. As it is, the apportionment of blame speaks clearly against a finding either that Mr Spencer acted recklessly or that it was unfair to treat the chain of causation as surviving his fall. Like the amputation, the fall was, on the judge's findings, an unexpected but real consequence of the original accident, albeit one to which Mr Spencer's own misjudgement contributed. In my view Judge Bullimore made no error of law in holding the appellants principally liable in damages for the

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