Woman set for pay-out after climbing wall fall
A bank executive who shattered her ankle leaping five feet from a low-level climbing wall during a team-building exercise has won the right to compensation.
Louise Pinchbeck, 44, of Harefield Avenue, Cheam, now walks with a limp, and cannot participate in her favourite sports like running, after breaking her right ankle when she "landed awkwardly" onto crash matting at Guildford's Craggy Island indoor climbing centre in March 2008.
Ms Pinchbeck was descending the 12-foot "bouldering" wall - designed to be tackled without ropes - when she jumped to the ground as her arms were becoming increasingly tired.
The High Court heard she leapt from a distance of four or five feet, turning in mid-air as she did so, and suffering compound ankle fractures when she landed.
A judge ruled yesterday Craggy Island was two-thirds responsible for the accident.
Judge Patrick Curran told the court: "They were in breach of their own procedures and standards in failing to brief or warn her properly about jumping onto the crash mat.
Ms Pinchbeck, was at the climbing centre with colleagues from Halifax/HBOS while taking part in an exercise "designed to improve their effectiveness as a team within the bank".
The highly "competitive" 44-year-old was the senior member of the group, which had already participated in a gruelling hour-long roped tour of the centre's 40-foot climbing wall before negotiating the bouldering wall.
Ms Pinchbeck said she and her colleagues received first-class supervision from the centre's instructors while tackling the high-level climbing wall, but claimed she was given no proper "briefing" about the potential hazards of the bouldering wall.
She had the impression that the bouldering wall was almost like a "play" session to cool down from the rigours of the 40-foot wall, she told the court, disputing the instructors' claims that she was specifically warned not to jump off.
Ms Pinchbeck sued Craggy Island Ltd, which runs the climbing facility on Guildford's Slyfield Estate.
Defence lawyers argued Ms Pinchbeck - as an insurance loss adjuster - should have been well aware of the need to avoid the unnecessary risk of jumping.
Ruling Craggy Island two-thirds responsible for the accident, Judge Curran told the court: "They were in breach of their own procedures and standards in failing to brief or warn her properly about jumping onto the crash mat.
"They failed to go through any drill with her as to the appropriate way to climb down."
He said Ms Pinchbeck had to bear one-third responsibility for her injuries because "she could have attempted to climb down or ask for help".
The amount of Ms Pinchbeck's damages payout has yet to be assessed.
The amount of Ms Pinchbeck's damages payout has yet to be assessed. However, even after a one-third discount, she should be due over £100,000.
Ms Pinchbeck broke down in tears as she left court.