31-year-old former British Army soldier, Chileshe Mwamba, is bringing an £860,000 claim against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for non-freezing cold injury (NFCI), lasting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a severe stammer rendering him ‘almost unintelligible’, The Daily Mail reports.[i]
Mr. Mwamba joined the British Army in 2009 and served as an infantryman and a Queen’s guardsman, in the Coldstream Guards. He later joined a regiment of the Royal Engineers (Armoured Engineers) and, from 10 November 2017 until 3 December 2017, was deployed to Estonia alongside 800 fellow personnel, as part of Operation CABRIT – a multinational attempt to deter Russian aggression in the Balkans and showcase NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
At this time, the average temperature would have been around -8°C, with lows of -23°C. It is alleged that prolonged period of exposure to extreme cold and wet weather conditions caused the armoured vehicle engineer’s injuries.
Whilst the MoD has admitted liability for Mr. Mwamba’s NFCI, it disputes the extent of his disabilities:
‘For the avoidance of doubt, it is not admitted that NFCI can cause an exacerbation of pre-existing dysfluency of speech. The claimant is required to prove the matter’ – Andrew Ward (counsel for the defendant).
Although Mr. Mwamba had a ‘mild stammer’ as a child, his case is that the trauma of exposure to extreme cold in the course of his employment caused a ‘marked exacerbation’ and made it ‘a lot worse’, impacting on his personal, social and work life.
At a recent preliminary hearing, Master Victoria McCloud heard that a speech and language therapist would be giving evidence at trial regarding the benefits of treating Mr. Mwamba’s speech impediment, which is tied to loss of earnings valued at £400,000 (impeding his future job prospects).
The High Court trial window is between June and October 2022.
[i] Danyal Hussain, ‘Soldier who claims being cold on exercise caused a stammer that has left him “almost unintelligible” sues MoD for £860,000’ (6 December 2021 Daily Mail) <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10279415/Queens-guardsman-31-sues-860-000-saying-cold-Estonaian-winter-caused-stammer.html> accessed 10 December 2021.