At Birmingham County Court, a circuit judge gave judgment on an unreported case, finding fundamental dishonesty. The claimant has since been unsuccessful in bringing an appeal.[i]
The claimant suffered a ‘significant’ ankle sprain when he stepped in a pothole, whilst running along a public footpath. This left him ‘functionally unstable’ and caused him to suffer ‘subsequent falls and further injuries’. Consequently, the claimant underwent an operation in March of 2017, sustaining financial losses and needing future care.
The defendant Borough Council admitted breach of duty pre-issue, leaving the decision on liability subject to factual and medical causation.
Following investigations, undertaken by the defendant’s solicitors, it was uncovered that that the claimant had not been prevented from playing rugby, participating in 2 triathlons, 3 Iron Man events, a half marathon and a full marathon.
In light of this information, the defendant sought a ruling of fundamental dishonesty against the claimant.
Her Honour Judge Truman, at the 1st instance trial, initially stated that surgery would still have been the appropriate option, regardless of whether ‘the claimant had been wholly truthful from the outset’ about the extent of his ankle symptoms. As such, the course of physiotherapy and claim for loss of earnings arising out of the ankle surgery were ‘reasonable’. Damages plus interest were calculated at a figure of £71,992.
However, HHJ Truman concluded that the claimant had made a ‘conscious attempt to inflate the value of his claim’ (both general and special damages). This finding was based on ‘significant omissions’, evident from correspondence with ‘treating physicians’ and ‘medico-legal experts’, as well as ‘two signed witness statements’, ‘part 18 replies’ and his ‘schedule of special damages’. The claimant had ‘deliberately misled and signed false statements of truth’.
The claimant’s dishonesty went to the ‘heart of the claim’ and claimant counsel’s analogy that the dishonesty was ‘akin to a creeper surrounding a tree rather than the tree itself’ failed.
Accordingly, the claim was dismissed.
Post-trial, the claimant sought permission to appeal. However, Mr Justice Martin Spencer refused, on the basis that HHJ Truman was ‘plainly’ correct in reaching her decision. This was a quantum only trial and the ‘extent of the claimant’s recovery went to the heart of the issue before the court’.
The claimant has chosen not to pursue his appeal further.
Even though the claim for physiotherapy and loss of earnings was genuine and inevitable, the claimant’s dishonest intention to inflate the damages was enough to successfully strike out the claim.
[i] ‘Claimant who exaggerated impact of genuine injury found fundamentally dishonest’ (20 August 2018 Litigation Futures) <https://www.litigationfutures.com/news/claimant-who-exaggerated-impact-of-genuine-injury-found-fundamentally-dishonest> accessed 3 September 2018.