Fringe pays out £115,000 to worker skewered in the eye

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FRINGE chiefs have been forced to pay out £115,000 in damages to a former steward who was skewered in the eye with a piece of jagged metal in a horror accident in Princes Street Gardens.

George Eaton launched the court action against the Festival Fringe Society after suffering permanent damage while working for them.

The 25-year-old was injured while trying to dismantle a stall in the gardens after it had blown over in the wind.

A broken section of the stall’s foldable frame sprung up, striking Mr Eaton in the left eye, leaving him with lacerations to his cornea, which needed surgery.

The Festival Fringe Society admitted liability at the Court of Session in Edinburgh and agreed to make a payout to Mr Eaton. He had claimed for £225,000, but was awarded £115,000 plus expenses. A Festival Fringe Society spokesman said they could not comment on specific cases involving its workers, but said any such payouts were “generally” made through its employee liability insurance.

The injury has given Mr Eaton an “increased risk of blindness” through developing sympathetic ophthalmitis – an inflammation of both eyes following trauma to one eye that can leave a patient completely blind.

Mr Eaton had been employed as a steward on August 25, 2008 – the last day of that year’s Fringe – and was working at the foot of The Mound, where a number of stalls had been erected next to the gallery.

He was tasked with helping to dismantle and pack the stalls, which had collapsible metal frames and folded away “scissor-like”.

Some of the stalls had blown over, and Mr Eaton had went to disassemble one, the frame of which had become bent over after striking the concrete.

The damaged section had then been torn off by another steward, leaving an end of “twisted and jagged metal”. Mr Eaton, who had graduated with a degree in product design from the University of Dundee, had worked in nightclubs and as a photographer before the accident.

In a statement to the court, his lawyers said that Mr Eaton had been left at a “disadvantage in the job market because of his lack of vision” and, “were he to become blind, he would be virtually unemployable”.

Mr Eaton had been suing for loss of earnings and employability, as well as compensation.