Ecclesiastical wins “safe grass” civil damages case
by Gill Montia
Ecclesiastical has emerged victorious in a civil damages case taken by a charity employee which could have had wide-reaching implications for anyone working on a natural surface, such as grass.
The case of McBride v Gables Farm Dogs and Cats Home (GFDCH) centred on alleged injuries sustained by a member of staff.
In March 2008, Helen McBride was exercising a dog on a field owned by GFDCH when she slipped, sustaining an injury to her hip.
Ms McBride subsequently filed a civil action for damages against the charity on the grounds that her employer had a duty to ensure floor surfaces are safe under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Her argument was that the charity should have provided a footpath in the field in which dogs were exercised.
As GFDCH’s insurer, Ecclesiastical defended the action on the basis that the claimant’s allegations were unsupportable in law.
The case was dismissed at Plymouth County Court last month and Ecclesiastical has hailed the judge’s decision as a victory for common sense.
The insurer’s claims & risk services director, David Bonehill, comments: “A defeat in this case would have forced any employer whose staff work on grass, fields or any kind non-artificial surface to review their practices and potentially spend vast sums of money providing some type of artificial surface.”