Woman loses breakdown damages claim
Monday 12 March 2012
A woman lost her £1 million damages action today over a
catastrophic breakdown which she claimed was caused by a work colleague
set on destroying her.
Sandra King, 53, said she was bullied and harassed into mental illness by Dr Abdul Al Muhairi, former acting chief executive officer at London's Cromwell Hospital.
At London's High Court in January, her counsel, Simon Livingstone, told Deputy Judge John Leighton Williams QC that between April 2003 and August 2006, Dr Al Muhairi, 47, who left the Cromwell in 2008, engaged in an ongoing and continuous course of aggressive and unreasonable conduct.
In her witness statement to the court, Mrs King. of Astor Close, Maidenhead, Berkshire, said: "I believe he deliberately set out to destroy me."
Counsel said that she had developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and been unfit to work since 2006, when she had to leave her post of executive manager at the hospital, where she had been for 23 years.
He described her as a "consummate professional", an ambitious and able woman, who had excelled in the ever-more demanding roles with which she was presented.
It was only a matter of time before the married mother-of-two, who had always had sound mental health, would have risen higher.
Medical Services International Ltd, which conceded it was vicariously liable for the acts of Dr Al Muhairi which occurred in the course of his employment, denied the allegations about his behaviour and said that family and other health problems had caused Mrs King's symptoms.
In his ruling, the judge said that he accepted Mrs King as a truthful and reliable witness but did not accept her interpretation of what happened.
"She has come to believe that Dr Al Muhairi set out to destroy her career and as a result cannot see what happened in an objective balanced way."
He noted that she had described Dr Al Muhairi, who did not give evidence, as a tyrant, dictator, megalomaniac and psychopath.
Looking at individual incidents, the judge said that two were undermining, one approached harassment and a third was bullying.
"On many occasions he (Dr Al Muhairi) behaved inconsiderately, even very inconsiderately, but I conclude that on only these four occasions did he overstep the mark.
"But looking at the incidents overall I do not conclude that it can fairly be said that Dr Al Muhairi was harassing, bullying or undermining the claimant nor that his conduct can objectively be judged as such."
He said he was satisfied that the cause of Mrs King's breakdown and depression was not Dr Al Muhairi's conduct but a condition which had developed due to other causes and which had reached breaking point by August 2006.
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