Bakery Fined After Customer Falls

Fall In Shop


Patisserie chain Le Pain Quotidien has been ordered to pay £27,000 after a customer fell head-first through a delivery hatch.

Doctor Mohan Gopal, 55, was visiting the upmarket shop in Kensington, west London, with his family when he dropped 12 feet through the unguarded hatch in the shop floor, crashing into a lift before hitting the concrete floor.

He suffered torn ligaments in his knee and although he had planned to return home to India that day he was forced to stay in England until he recovered.

According to a report in the Telegraph, prosecutor Sarah Selby told Blackfriars Crown Court that staff at the cafe had ignored safety guidelines by failing to put out signs to warn people about the open hatch and by not having two staff members operating the lift.

The firm was initially said to have tried to partly blame Dr Gopal because they claimed he was looking at the food.

Dr Gopal received £7,500 compensation from the chain's parent company, Village du Pain, and the firm was also fined £12,500 and ordered to pay £7,000 costs.

Le Pain Quotidien pleaded guilty to exposing the public to a health and safety risk, as well as failing to safeguard areas where workers could fall.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Katrina Elsey, from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors commented, "This accident was completely avoidable. Unfortunately, the bakery had not taken the appropriate action in order to place signs or otherwise to warn about the open hatch to customers.

Open hatches including cellar hatches are a potential danger within shops, pubs and other establishments and it is therefore important that the Occupiers undertake the appropriate checks and risk assessments to ensure that these do not become a danger to customers visiting their premises. Falls from heights are a recognised cause of fatal and major injuries. It seems that no measures had been taken in this case to avoid customers falling through the open hatch within the shop."