Rail ‘Inadequately Fitted’, Judge Rules Following Death Of Elderly Man

Death ‘Direct Consequence’ Of Defective Installation

23.01.2013

A judge has ordered the building firm responsible for the installation of a handrail in an elderly man’s home in Glasgow to pay more than £250,000 to his family after it came loose causing him to fall down a flight of stairs.

Lord Drummond Young said the incident, which led to the death of 71-year-old Peter McGee from Glasgow in July 2009, was a ‘direct consequence’ of the defective installation of the rail on the staircase in his home.

Today serious injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell welcomed the clarity provided in the judgment which allowed for ‘no confusion about what could have been done to prevent the tragedy’.

Elaine Russell from the firm’s Glasgow office said: “The judge was very clear when referring to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr McGhee. He states that the handrail had been fitted in a wholly inadequate manner and that his fall was a direct consequence of the defective installation.

“There is no confusion here about what could, and should have been done to prevent this tragedy. The judge makes it clear that just by ensuring the correct fitting was used Mr McGhee would not have lost his life under such avoidable circumstances.

“It is now absolutely imperative that lessons are urgently learnt to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

“The judge makes it clear that just by ensuring the correct fitting was used Mr McGhee would not have lost his life under such avoidable circumstances.”

RJK Building Services of Shettleston, Glasgow, were instructed by Glasgow City Council to fit the handrails in the home where Mr McGee lived with his wife, Catherine, in May 2008.

The company accepted that the manner in which the banister had been fixed was "negligent", but contested the damages.

The court heard it was "almost inevitable" that the handrail would collapse as the wrong type of fixing had been used.

In delivering his opinion, Lord Drummond Young said: "I should emphasise that I consider what happened to be essentially very simple: an elderly man attempted to use a handrail to descend stairs; that handrail was designed to bear his weight; when he put his weight on it, it failed, and it did so because it had been inadequately fitted."