Woman knocked unconscious by collapsing St Neots Christmas lights achieves liability breakthrough

COLLAPSE: The scene in St Neots High Street following the collapse of the Christmas lights.

COLLAPSE: The scene in St Neots High Street following the collapse of the Christmas lights. - Credit: Archant

A WOMAN who was knocked unconscious when Christmas lights fell from a building in St Neots has won a five-and-a-half year battle to get the installers to accept liability.

HPT News 11 Lights collapse

HPT News 11 Lights collapse - Credit: Archant

Elena Giddens, 44, was walking with her friend Anne Beck – who was pushing her son Myles in a pram – along the High Street on November 29, 2007, when the decoration collapsed and a piece of masonry smashed into Mrs Giddens.

Mrs Giddens, formerly of Eynesbury Manor, was taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon. According to her legal team, she has been left in severe pain having suffered a significant injury to her right axillary nerve (in the shoulder) resulting in muscle weakness and restricted movement in her shoulder.

She also suffered a punctured lung and three broken ribs in the incident.

The Christmas lights, which had been placed across the road between the National and Provincial Building Society and Leeds Day solicitors, were one of several large metal frames that were erected by Broadlands (Builders) Ltd, subcontracted by Millennium Quest, which had a five-year £151,000 contract with St Neots Town Council.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found London-based Broadlands was at fault for the accident for fitting the bolts to hold the wires of the 52kg-lights in the wrong position.

Huntingdon magistrates fined Broadlands £12,000 but neither they or Millennium Quest admitted fault.

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Field Fisher Waterhouse partner Jill Greenfield took over the case in July last year and on Monday (July 8), Mrs Giddens achieved a breakthrough as both firms admitted liability for the incident and a judgement has been made against both companies.

Mrs Giddens, who has since moved to Spain, said: “While I’ve been going from one hospital to another, the people who nearly killed me are still managing to play games with each other, trying to find the guilty party.

“I’ve been completely deprived of any rights for the last five-and-a-half years.

“I am grateful to Jill Greenfield, who has, after so many years of physical, psychological and emotional suffering on my part, miraculously managed to get the case moving.

“I would like to forget about it all, but this has proved impossible so far, given the state of my health and the fact that I’ve not been given a chance to do so.”

The next stage will be to agree compensation which Mrs Greenfield said would allow her client to get better care and rehabilitation.