Stage manager left in wheelchair helped by Morrish Solicitors

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Morrish Solicitors have secured £3.7 million compensation for a Stage Manager after she suffered a life-changing accident at the Soho Theatre which has left her in a wheelchair.

Rachael Presdee was a stage manager on the Headlong Theatre production of Boys in 2012. On 9 June 2012 she fell through an unguarded backstage door and dropped three metres on to the open stage leaving her with serious and permanent injury to her spine.

Rachael, who had not worked at the Soho before, was preparing for a matinee and went up a set of spiral stairs to find a theatre employee who could locate the stage light controls. She went through a standard, unmarked door which had no warning signs or notices. When she opened the door she was immediately met with a black curtain which she assumed was a light blocker commonly found in theatres.

She went into what she thought was a room but stepped into open air above the stage.

On Wednesday 3 December damages of £ 3.7 million were agreed in an out of court settlement.

In a separate, criminal action the Soho Theatre has been successfully prosecuted by Westminster City Council for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act and for not undertaking suitable assessment of the risk arising from this unmarked door. Sentencing is expected to take place on 15 December 2014.

Rachael, who now lives in Australia, commented: “I could not have imagined when I walked into work on 9 June 2012 that I would never walk out of there, or walk anywhere else ever again. The impact of my injury can be seen by the level of compensation required to cover the cost of carers for me, future needs including specially adapted home and equipment, and loss of a lifetime’s earnings. I am immensely grateful for the support I received from Equity throughout this whole process, and take this opportunity to urge all theatre operators to please ensure that safety risks, no matter how seemingly big or small, are properly managed so that no other theatre worker has their life so catastrophically altered by something which could have been so easily prevented by simple, cheap and obvious steps.”

“I have no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without the expertise, knowledge and care of Martin Bare and his team at Morrish Solicitors.”

Martin Bare, Partner at Morrish Solicitors who managed the case said: “This was an appalling accident which should never have happened. I am in awe of Rachel’s good humour and strength in the face of it. Morrish Solicitors and Equity were with her all the way through, including Equity funding the legal case for her compensation. Whilst I am of course delighted that we have been able to secure a sound financial future for Rachael, she has had to pay a terrible price.”

This is the biggest compensation settlement for an accident in theatre in Equity’s history and is believed to be one of the biggest such settlements anywhere in the UK entertainment industry.

For further information, please contact Laura Tatterstall, Head of Communications at Morrish Solicitors on 033 3344 9600, Mob 07595 564 764 or email laura.tattersall@morrishsolicitors.com

 

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