Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Supermarket group fined after customer death.
The Co-Operative Group Ltd has been fined £400,000 after the death of a grandfather who slipped on water leaking from a faulty sandwich chiller.
Stanley May, 74, a former parish councilor, died two days after hitting his head on the floor in the Truro, Cornwall, branch of the national supermarket in July 2015.
Truro Crown Court heard the chiller had been faulty for 44 hours but customers could still enter the wet area.
The Co-op previously pleaded guilty to a Health and Safety offence of failing to protect customers.
Engineers had tried to fix the chiller two days earlier, but it had continued to leak on to the vinyl floor.
A yellow "wet floor" sign had been used, but the affected area extended beyond it.
Judge Simon Carr said what happened was "so easily avoidable. It was a problem that would’ve been identifiable by anybody present and working in the store. The company tried to address the problem but did so inadequately."
Mr May, of Indian Queens, Cornwall, a retired railway station clerk at Newquay, Cornwall, had three children and six grandchildren and judge Simon Carr described him as "an exceptional man in good health."
Mr May was a former chairman of St Enoder Parish Council and a member of the Co-op whose shops he visited regularly.
Defending the Co-operative Group Ltd, Keith Morton QC, said the company pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.
He added that the Truro store, and the company as a whole, had a ‘great safety record’ and has the lowest incident rate for customer accidents according to a report looking at six supermarket chains.
Speaking outside the court, Mr May's daughter, Victoria Parsons, said: "We'd just like everybody to learn that this was so easily avoided. If they had kept an eye on that water my dad would still be alive today."
The defence read a statement from retail and logistics director at the Co-operative Group, Christopher Whitfield, in which he said: "Mr May should have been kept safe while walking in our store. It is a matter of utmost regret that he was not."
The court awarded £50,000 in costs to Cornwall Council which brought the prosecution.