£254,610 awarded for severe latex allergy

At Leeds County Court, a 45 year old claimant brought a claim against her employers, an NHS Trust based in West Yorkshire. The claimant was awarded £254,610 for injuries arising from the defendant's failure to accommodate her latex allergy.

The basis of the claim

The claimant alleged that she had suffered a latex allergy because of the failure of her employers to take the necessary care for her safety. By the time the case got to Court the defendants had admitted liability.

The claimant worked as a nurse for the defendant from 2003, and within a year had developed a permanent allergy to latex.

The Court had to consider how the claimant, a community staff nurse, was to be compensated. In particular, what should the claimant receive for her pain and suffering and how much for future loss of earnings?

At the trial, the claimant and her husband gave evidence about how the latex allergy, which was permanent, was affecting the claimant's everyday life. It transpired that the claimant sustained an allergic reaction whenever she came into contact with latex. This could include when the claimant went shopping, swimming, worked out at the gym or went to the dentist.

At home, the claimant had to modify her carpets by removing those that were rubber-backed and replacing them with wooden flooring.

The biggest area of contention was in relation to her claim for past and future loss of earnings. The judge held that her allergy would put her at a significant disadvantage on the labour market. It was agreed by experts on both sides that the claimant could work from home or in a controlled office environment, however neither expert was able to identify a suitable employer.

Court decision

At the conclusion of the case the claimant received an award of £254,610, which included a substantial sum for her permanent latex allergy and a modest sum for psychological symptoms, as well as compensation for her past and future loss of earnings.