A former British Telecom worker who was electrocuted by an overhead power line while working at Catsfield is suing the company for hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages.
Ian Milroy, 54, suffered a cardiac arrest, brain damage and burns when he “came into contact” with a high-voltage line while testing a fault between two poles in Powdermill Lane.
He was the author of his own misfortuneBarrister acting for BT
Mr Milroy, of The Firs, Biggin Hill, Westerham, Kent, is now claiming more than £300,000 damages from BT, saying it was “negligent” and breached the duty of care it owed him.
However, BT denies any liability to compensate Mr Milroy, insisting he was the “author of his own misfortune” and must take “full responsibility” for what happened.
Mr Milroy’s lawyers told London’s High Court that BT failed to take “adequate steps” to prevent the terrifying accident.
Barrister, Malcolm Duthie, said the repair hoist operator was called to help a colleague to check a fault in Powdermill Lane on August 26, 2009, before disaster struck.
He and the other man were elevated in the cherry picker’s basket when a local resident with some horses asked for the vehicle to be moved so they could pass.
Mr Milroy obliged but “came into contact with an overhead, high-voltage cable, causing him to suffer electrocution”.
His heart stopped and he had a seizure, suffering burns to the back of his head and his right arm, a traumatic brain injury and compression fractures in his back.
As a result he has been left with “continuing back pains”, depression and anxiety, He has no memory of the incident.
Mr Duthie said BT failed to ensure Mr Milroy was properly trained after it made a “fundamental change” to the way it worked in a bid to boost staff safety in 2008.
He said: “The issue is whether that significant change was imparted to their employees and whether BT took adequate steps to ensure its employees understood the principles and were able to apply them in the field”.
Mr Duthie argued that it should have been realised by BT bosses that a cherry picker was not needed to carry out the job.
“Mr Milroy would never have been called. A ladder would have been enough to do the job. That is what happened two days later, with relative ease.”
But, Iain Daniels, for BT, claimed Mr Milroy was “responsible for his own safety” and that “the accident occured as a result of his own negligence”.
“Sadly, he is the author of his own significant misfortune”, the barrister argued.
Mr Milroy and a ground support worker were both dismissed after the accident for “not following BT’s procedures”, the court heard.
Mr Daniels insisted Mr Milroy was “appropriately trained” claiming had he adopted BT’s approved practice, “the accident would have been avoided”.
“Mr Milroy knew of the risk, knew it was against his training and BT’s instructions, but did it anyway. He therefore takes full responsibility for his actions,” Mr Daniels said.
The hearing was continuing this week.