Background

On 24 March 2016 the claimant was playing 5-a-side football. He suffered an amputation of his dominant right hand ring finger when he climbed the fencing to retrieve a ball that was stuck in the netting at the top. 

Injuries

During the evening, the claimant was playing a 5-a-side football game. A referee from the defendant company was supervising the game. They were playing on an artificial pitch surrounded by a wire fence. At the top of the fence there was netting to prevent footballs from flying out of the pitch and on to an adjacent road. The fence was approximately 8 feet high and had netting around the top of it.

The ball was kicked up by one of the players and lodged in the netting at the top of the fence. The claimant had to climb up the fence in order to release the ball. As he went to descend the fence, his wedding ring got caught on the top of the fencing and he suffered a total de-gloving injury to his left ring finger.

The claimant was transferred to hospital but, unfortunately, the finger was not viable for repair surgery and he had an amputation on 26 March 2016. The amputation was just below the first joint. He went on to develop Quadriga and this required further surgery in October 2016 for release of flexor tendons.

The claimant has a zigzag scar on the palm of his hand, reduced grip strength and suffers from cold intolerance. He remains conscious of the appearance of the amputated finger and is now unable to wear his wedding ring.

Liability

The case was brought against the football club which was the owner and occupier of the pitches.

His case was that the accident was caused by the club’s failure to maintain the netting surrounding the pitches, allowing it to become loose and sagging; that it was foreseeable that footballs would become trapped in the netting; and that there was no alternative system for retrieving trapped footballs. He had seen other players and staff members climb the fencing to retrieve footballs.

The defendant stated that their fences were in good repair and the nets were properly maintained. They said the nets could not be pulled tight as this would create stress on them and promote their breakage. They also stated that there were wooden poles to aid the dislodging of the footballs in the event that they became stuck. They maintained there were also warning signs present on the courts prohibiting the wearing of jewellery.

The claimant maintained that the notices were erected following his accident and no poles were in place either prior to or at the time of the accident. The defendant was asked to provide evidence in support of their contentions. They refused to provide disclosure and the claimant obtained an order for specific disclosure. Shortly after that, settlement proposals were made and an offer was accepted by the defendant.

The claim settled for the sum of £18,000 plus costs.