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17 Managerial L. 1 (1974)

handle is hein.journals/ijlm17 and id is 1 raw text is: SMITH v. MANCHESTER CORPORATION

Court of Appeal : 10 June 1974
SMITH v. MANCHESTER CORPORATION
Edmund Davies L.J., Stamp L.J. and Scarman L.J.
Damages - Loss of future earnings - Assessment of - Domestic worker
injured in fall at work - Injury to shoulder and right arm resulting in partial
permanent disability - No immediate loss of earnings - Employers' undertaking
to retain in employment - Risk of future unemployment - Factors to be taken
into account in assessing damages.
In May, 1971, the plaintiff, a woman of 49, while carrying a tray in the course of
her employment as a part-time domestic worker in an old people's home, slipped
on some substance deposited on the floor and fell, sustaining injuries to her right
elbow. As a result of prolonged strapping up she developed a frozen shoulder and
movement of her right arm was permanently impaired so that she was under a
disability in her day to day tasks and her normal social activities. She was off
work for 14 months but then returned to light work with her pre-accident
employers, at her pre-accident pay, £16.50 a week. She brought an action for
damages against her employers alleging that her accident was due to their
negligence. The employers admitted liability but denied that the plaintiff had
suffered the damage alleged. At the trial they gave an undertaking through their
counsel that they would keep the plaintiff in their employment as long as they
could properly do so. The trial judge accepted the medical evidence that the
plaintiff was considerably disabled, and awarded her £2,300 general damages,
£2,000 for pain and suffering, physical handicap, interference with amenities,
etc. and £300 for loss of future earnings.
On appeal by the plaintiff, on the ground that the awards under both heads
were too low,
Held, allowing the appeal, that the £2,000 was not so low as to justify the
court in interfering, but that the sum awarded for loss of future earnings was too
low because, in the event of the plaintiff's present employers (despite their
undertaking) not being able to retain her in their employ, her position in the
competitive labour market would be considerably weakened as the result of her
disability; that although there was no clearly foreseeable loss, there was an
existing and permanent reduction in her earning capacity for which she must be
genuinely compensated and accordingly the £300 would be increased to £1,000.
Per Edmund Davies L.J. Now that general damages for pain and suffering is
required to be assessed separately from damages for future financial loss the two
awards must be considered separately and if the award under one head is clearly
wrong it should be interfered with, even though ultimately there may be no very
substantial variation in the global award.
Decision of Kilner-Brown J. varied.

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