Injured portworker wins £500k pay-out

A FELIXSTOWE portworker has today been awarded a compensation pay-out worth around £500,000 following a nine-year legal battle after an accident at the container terminal.

Richard Cornwell

A FELIXSTOWE portworker has today been awarded a compensation pay-out worth around £500,000 following a nine-year legal battle after an accident at the container terminal.

Doctors said Alan Thorne, 49, from Felixstowe, would never be able to work again because of the back injuries he suffered.

Mr Thorne was employed as a terminal operator by Hutchinson Ports (UK) Ltd when he suffered an accident at work on July 8, 1999, when he was in a steel cage being lowered into a hold of a ship.

His solicitor Belinda Craig said the cage became tangled against the side of the hold - it tilted and threw him violently about.

Mr Thorne's back injuries were so complex it was difficult for medical experts to diagnose at first but a fracture was eventually diagnosed.

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Although treatment was recommended it was unlikely there would be improvement in the foreseeable future.

Doctors and an employment consultant all agreed he could never work again because of the injuries.

Mr Thorne's legal team claimed their client was subjected to more than 119 hours of surveillance by Hutchinson Ports, between May 2004 and November 2007, in a bid to discredit his condition.

However, as the case prepared to go to trial an offer of compensation - the exact amount has not been disclosed - was put forward.

Mr Thorne said: “I am just relieved that a settlement has now been offered and I can put the accident behind me and move on.

“I will never fully recover but the settlement will enable me to adapt my home so I can be more comfortable.

“It has obviously not been pleasant to know that I have been under so much surveillance, but I am just pleased that the whole matter has now been resolved and I will not have to go to trial to fight for compensation.”

Ms Craig, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “Mr Thorne not only suffered a very serious and painful back injury as a result of his accident at work, but he was also subjected to nearly 120 hours of surveillance as the defendants in the case tried to continually discredit his claim.

“We are just pleased that we have been able to attain a suitable compensation from Hutchinson Ports which will enable Mr Thorne to lead a comfortable life going forwards.

“This accident has left him permanently unable to work, and this settlement at least goes some way in helping him lead a more comfortable life.”

Port head of corporate affairs Paul Davey said the port did not wish to comment further on the matter.

- Do you think the amount paid out was enough? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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