Stage worker sues theatre for £40k over spinal injury

Dan Travis
Dan Travis
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A DEPUTY stage manager at the Royal Lyceum Theatre is suing his bosses for £40,000 after suffering a spinal injury while moving scenery for a play.

Dan Travis was off work for five months after sustaining a double disc prolapse in his spine while lifting a 55kg piece of scenery.

The 40-year-old said that theatre bosses were liable for the injury as they failed to weigh the scenery, which was being used in a production of the play Six Characters in Search of an Author.

Lawyers for the Royal Lyceum contend that the sum being sought is “excessive” while also pointing out that the employee, who still works for the theatre according to court papers, was “very overweight”.

Mr Travis, who lives in Bernard Street in Leith, launched the legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in a bid to recover damages and lost earnings.

His lawyers told the court that he was working at the Grindlay Street venue on the day of the accident, and had to reset the stage for the evening performance after the matinee.

Various pieces of scenery had to be moved, including a section measuring approximately 50cm by 40cm in a quarter circle shape. The section, made of 18mm thick Perspex, was one of four pieces that locked on to the stage to create a full circle.

Lawyers for Mr Travis told the court: “Owing to its shape, the piece could not be handled with ease. No handles were available to assist and the only lifting aids were suction cups, which would not properly adhere to the Perspex.”

Mr Travis said he was moving the scenery with colleague Adrian Powers and, due to its shape, they “adopted an awkward posture” which required “greater lifting force”.

Mr Travis said he felt increasing lower back pain during the accident, which took place on February 23, 2008.

His lawyers told the court that scenery at the Royal Lyceum was “not routinely weighed” for risk assessment prior to the incident, but such a system was subsequently introduced.

The court heard that the injury left Mr Travis unable to lift. He also found it difficult to walk and sit.

Lawyers for the theatre said Mr Travis also worked with the Lothian and Borders Police Choir and casual crew work for the Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations and T in the Park.

As well as saying Mr Travis was “very overweight”, the legal team said that he lived on “the top floor of a block of flats”.

A Royal Lyceum spokesman said he could not comment on an ongoing legal case.

Thompsons, the solicitors representing Mr Travis, were contacted for comment but did not respond. Mr Travis could not be reached for comment.

The case is set to call again at the Court of Session later this year.