Boatyard Worker Awarded £7.2m In Damages

A boatyard worker who suffered severe brain damage when he was hit by a falling gantry has been awarded £7.2 million in damages.

Kevin Cleightonhills was 21 when he was injured while trying to store away a boat for the evening at Bembridge Marine Ltd, on the Isle of Wight, in September 2006.

Mr Cleightonhills had lived in London for a few years but returned to the island to work for the summer at the company, which trades as Bembridge Outboards.

He was standing on a metal gantry when it collapsed beneath him, causing him to fall 15ft (4.6m) on to concrete, where he landed on his feet but was struck on the head by falling metal.

Initially given a 5% chance of survival, he needed further surgery when he developed post traumatic hydrocephalus and later underwent intensive rehabilitation.

Now 26, Mr Cleightonhills, who lives with round-the-clock support in a bungalow near the family home in Bembridge, was  doing "surprisingly well'', despite problems with memory, concentration and fatigue, said counsel David Wilby QC.

He told Judge Gary Burrell QC at London's High Court that Mr Cleightonhills had a good quality of life and helped out in a local charity shop, but would not be able to live independently.

The company's counsel, Henry Charles, said it was an "awful accident'' for which it expressed its "sincere regret'' and hoped  that the approach of its insurers and legal team in providing interim payments and support had helped.

Approving the agreed award as being in Mr Cleightonhills' best interests, the judge paid tribute to his family for their "fortitude, hard work and integrity''.

Claire Howard, a partner at legal firm Blake Lapthorn, which represented Mr Cleightonhills, said:

"This settlement for Kevin provides the reassurance that he will receive care for the rest of his life and is a case that shows what can be achieved when parties work together.

"His parents and I are now actively involved in Headway Isle of Wight group to raise awareness of brain injury victims and to develop new resources. Little is available on the island for those with an acquired brain injury (ABI).

"The ultimate aim is to open a day centre for victims and families of those with an ABI.''