An NHS trust will not have to pay compensation to a hospital worker who sustained a fractured lower spine when a colleague pulled her chair from beneath her in an office prank.
Meeta Patel attempted to sue Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for Â£58,000, claiming that it was â€œvicariously liableâ€ for the actions of her co-worker.
But on 13 October, the Central London County Court dismissed Patelâ€™s claim, saying that the prankster, Rashid Khan, was acting â€œoutside the scope of his workâ€ and that Homerton University Hospital was not liable for his â€œact of follyâ€.
Patel, an employee of the hospital in east London, brought the claim after the incident in August 2012 when Khan pulled the seat from under her as she went to sit down. She landed on the floor, badly damaging her lower spine and coccyx.
Abigail Holt, Patelâ€™s barrister, argued that Khan breached his duty of care to Patel, and that the hospital was indirectly liable.
â€œIn moving the chair the moment before Mr Khan knew she was about to sit down, he committed an obvious breach of the duty of care that he owed Ms Patel as a fellow employee,â€ she said, according to Londonâ€™sÂ Evening Standard.
However, Judge Heather Baucher dismissed Patelâ€™s case after ruling that Khan had been acting â€œoutside the scope of his workâ€.
She said: â€œI find that he deliberately moved this chair on the spur of the moment â€¦ there was no malicious intent. It was an act of pure folly.â€
She added that Khan was â€œacting in a purely private capacity, unconnected with his workâ€.
Khan had earlier told the court that his actions were not malicious and that it was intended as a joke.
According to theÂ Evening Standard, he said: â€œTo this day, I still donâ€™t really know why I did it. I think I thought it would be funny and I thought she would laugh. It was an unexplained spur of the moment decision, which I now very much regret.â€
He added that he thought that Patel had noticed the chair being pulled away.
Recognition to Health&SafetyatWork