Monday, June 15, 2009
Drunk or not, how do you "fall" through a 12 inch opening in window?
Why has she taken 4 years to lodge this claim?
"A public school is being sued by a former pupil who was permanently disabled following a drunken fall from a window.
Amy St Johnston was a 16-year-old pupil at Oundle School when she got drunk at a Valentine’s Day ball and fell 15ft from her first-floor window. Miss St Johnston, now a 20-year-old classics student at Selwyn College, Cambridge, claims that the incident happened because of a “drinking culture” among students at the school. She is reported to be demanding £300,000 in damages.
Miss St Johnston now sufferers from partial paraplegia, which can lead to limb paralysis, and walks with the aid of crutches.
Her writ alleges that the window she fell from opened to 12 inches, three times the legal maximum. Documents lodged at the High Court say that Oundle was in loco parentis, and accuse the school of failing in its duty of care by leaving Miss St Johnston in the room while it was “known she was under the influence of alcohol”.
The accident took place in February 2005 when Miss St Johnston was in the lower sixth of the mixed £22,800-a-year school near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
She says that before the ball she had consumed “a combination of alcoholic drinks” over several hours. When teachers noticed that she was walking unsteadily, she was sent to “cool off”, but the writ alleges that she then returned to the ball.
Staff later confirmed that she had been drinking and took her back to her room. Left there, the writ says, she “leaned so far out the window that she fell out”.
After the accident, Miss St Johnson left the school to continue her sixth-form studies elsewhere.
Miss St Johnson refused to discuss the case yesterday. “I don’t really want to talk about it, I don’t think I should — partly because of legal reasons but also because it’s just not something I want to discuss,” she told the Daily Mail.
A spokeswoman for Oundle confirmed that a writ had been served on the school but said she could not comment further. “The matter is being dealt with by the school’s legal advisers,” she said.
Oundle’s rules state that sixth formers can drink beer, cider and wine at officially permitted social events where a “substantial meal” is served.
The writ says that since 1969 the British Standard Code of Practice has recommended that limiters be fitted on windows above ground level, restricting opening to less than 4 inches. The 1998 edition of Building Regulations also required such windows to be fitted with limiters or safety guards to prevent falls. "
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