Council fined £50,000 over death05th April 2011
East Sussex County Council has been ordered to pay nearly £80,000 after a Down’s syndrome patient died on an outing.
Colin Woods accidentally swallowed dishwasher fluid during a sports visit to the council-run St Nicholas Centre in Lewes in 2004.
The 60-year-old drank the fluid as he believed it to be orange squash. The sodium hydroxide gradually eroded his digestive organs following the incident and he died 16 months later.
By the time of his death he was unable to eat and had lost nearly half his own weight.
Five other people also drank the poisonous liquid in the belief that it was squash and continue to suffer from oesophageal problems.
Prosecutors said it was “an accident waiting to happen but highly foreseeable” and that East Sussex County Council had failed to implement the simplest of safety measures.
Judge Michael Lawson QC fined the authority £50,000 and ordered it to pay costs totalling £27,670.
Inquiries afterwards found the offending bottle was of virtually indistinguishable appearance to the bottles of orange squash consumed at the centre, and it was decided that the unnamed person who mixed the drink had not meant to cause any harm.
At the centre, a member of staff discovered an open container of Suma Ultra L2 dishwasher fluid, which was usually kept underneath the dishwasher in the centre’s kitchen, in a different room.
Adam Budworth, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “It is obvious that the council failed to undertake any measures to prevent this happening.
“The council failed to follow any of the rudimentary health and safety measures in terms of storage and use of hazardous and noxious substances.”
Sally Fromont, Senior Solicitor in IBB’s Personal Injury team, comments: “It is good to see that the Council have been fined in this case. I have experience of dealing with claims in the civil courts for personal injuries suffered as a result of similar issues, including one involving dish washing liquid with the appearance of blackcurrant drink which was consumed and resulted in the death of nine individuals.
“I am dismayed that the manufacturers of these products are still producing them in colours that could be mistaken for squash.”
IBB Solicitors has built a reputation for quality of service in pursuing compensation in cases involving accident, illness or death. If you would like advice on personal injury issues, you can contact a member of IBB’s Personal Injury team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email email@example.com.