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King v Samsung Heavy Industries Europe Ltd & Others

16 April 2002
The issues

Vibration white finger.

The facts

The Claimant worked for First Defendant from August 1995 to April 1998. He was employed by the Second Defendant from the 17th August 1998 until 16th September 1998. During his time with both employers, he had had to use hand-held power tools and had received no information as to how to use them. When he was employed by the First Defendant, he had had to use the tools for no more than 5 minutes per day on average. The expert evidence was to the effect that this was insufficient to have been the cause of Claimant’s problems. In his employment with the Second Defendant, he had had to use the tools in a different way and for three 40 minutes sessions each day.

The medical evidence (from a Consultant Vascular Surgeon) was to the effect that the Claimant was suffering from VWF. The Defendant’s evidence was to the effect that he had a mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The Joint Statement concluded that there was a possibility that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome could be caused by vibration. This caused the Claimant to re-formulate his claim shortly before Trial in the alternative. The Judge at first instance gave Judgment against the Second Defendant. Both Defendants appealed (the First Defendant appealing on an issue of costs).

The decision

1. The Court was not persuaded by the Second Defendant’s argument that had been prejudiced by the late alternative claim for CTS. This matter had been raised by Defendant’s expert and they had given thought to the issue before the Trial began. No Application to adjourn had been made before the start of the Hearing and by the time Defendants raised it, it was too late.

2. The Recorder was entitled to come to the conclusion he had reached. It was reasonable on the evidence to find that the vibration levels that the Claimant was exposed to in the course of his employment by the Second Defendant were unacceptable. Whilst the Second Defendant’s breach of duty was not the main or sole cause of the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it was a material factor contributory to the injury and that sufficed to support the Recorder’s finding of liability.

Second Defendants Appeal Dismissed.

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