£2m settlement for labourer left paralysed


A labourer who has been left paralysed and brain damaged after plunging into a storm tank is to receive £2 million in damages.

The payout will be made to Lester Cowan to settle a lawsuit brought over the accident at a pumping station in Bangor, Co Down.

Mr Cowan, a 57-year-old from Lisburn, Co Antrim, has no memory of the fall in June 2009 which led to him sustaining catastrophic injuries.

Contractors were working on the Northern Ireland Water-owned site at the time of the accident.

Although no-one witnessed him fall, the court heard he was found at the bottom of the storm tank where foul pumps were located.

Roof decking had been completed, with plywood sheeting used to cover holes until proper lids were fitted.

Mr Cowan, who had been employed by another sub-contractor, sued J Graham Dromore Ltd for alleged negligence and breach of statutory duty.

He was described as a keen, conscientious and willing employee anxious to get on with his job.

Last week a High Court judge had determined that the labourer was in no way to blame for what had happened to him.

Rejecting claims that he was guilty of any contributory negligence, Mr Justice Gillen held that he had not been properly warned about the risks surrounding dangerous and defective decking with totally inadequate covering.

The judge decided Mr Cowan had probably entered to adjust a pump and ensure it was most effectively deployed.

Following this verdict, a further hearing had been scheduled to determine the level of damages to be awarded.

However, Mr Cowan’s solicitors, Agnew Andress Higgins, were able to negotiate a settlement.

It was confirmed in court yesterday that the plaintiff will obtain a payout valued at £2m.