Carer sues school for £100,000

Lawyers for the Royal Blind School say the compensation claim is excessive

Lawyers for the Royal Blind School say the compensation claim is excessive

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A FORMER carer is suing the Royal Blind School for £100,000 after she injured her hand while helping a disabled girl into a feeding chair.

Lucy Thomas launched the legal action against the charity after she was forced to leave her job at its Jura House residential unit in Morningside due to ill health.

The 29-year-old was moving the child, who has special needs, into a sling attached to a hoist when the youngster went rigid, bending her hand back.

After being off work for two months, Ms Thomas, who lives in Pathhead, Midlothian, was unable to return due to the injury to her wrist.

Lawyers for the school are fighting the damages claim, arguing that the compensation being sought is “excessive”.

The lawyers also contend that Ms Thomas was at least partly to blame as she should have taken “reasonable care” for her own safety.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh heard that Ms Thomas was working as a carer at Jura House on September 7, 2007 and was helping colleague Jade Buckley.

Her lawyers told the court that the pair were moving the girl into a feeding chair using a sling, but the youngster was repeatedly “going rigid and stretching her body out forcefully”, a movement staff members termed “hyperextension”.

The court heard Ms Thomas had to fasten straps at the girl’s waist and chest to secure her into the chair.

Ms Thomas said she was supporting the child with her right hand against the girl’s body brace to prevent her from falling out of the chair when she hyperextended again, causing the carer’s hand to be bent back.

Ms Thomas needed treatment at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and with a GP, and claims she continues to suffer wrist pain. She was off work as a result of the accident and had her employment terminated in November 2008 for medical reasons.

Ms Thomas later secured part-time work at an Edinburgh clothes store.

Lawyers for the school admit Ms Thomas lost her job on ill-health grounds, but allege she never told Ms Buckley she had injured her hand at the time of the incident.

They also told the court Ms Thomas should have known not to place her hand into harm’s way while levering the girl into her chair. As a result, they state Ms Thomas “caused or materially contributed to her own accident”.

Lord Brodie ruled that evidence from both parties would be heard at a future hearing.

Founded in 1835, the Royal Blind School provides specialist education, term-time residential care, therapies and support for youngsters aged up to 18.

A school spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on an ongoing court case.

Lawyers for Ms Thomas were contacted for comment but failed to respond.