Secretary with RSI awarded pounds 40,000

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The Independent Online
A SECRETARY has won compensation and damages of pounds 40,000 for repetitive strain injury after being dismissed by a City law firm.

In what was only the second successful case to reach court, Adele Smith, 28, said that she had suffered severe pains after her typing workload increased dramatically over a three-day period at Baker & Mackenzie.

Yesterday, lawyers preparing cases for keyboard staff allegedly suffering from RSI derived considerable satisfaction from the ruling by the judge, Mr Justice Callman.

Peter Woods, of the London solicitors Stephens Innocent, said: 'Clearly this judgment must immeasurably strengthen our position for our RSI cases.

'The judge was happy to accept that Ms Smith has sustained injuries and that she had been dismissed becasue she was unable to resume her work.'

Earlier this year, Mr Justice Prosser ruled in the High Court that the term RSI was 'meaningless'. He based his ruling partly on evidence submitted by Campbell Semple, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and hand specialist, whose evidence in the case of Ms Smith was rejected by Mr Justice Callman at the City of London County Court. The court accepted yesterday that there was a physical injury without the existence of 'objective clinical signs'.

Ms Smith took a month off to recuperate after her workload, 80 per cent of which involved the operation of a keyboard, increased.

She subsequently found work at a lower salary to train as a legal executive.

It is estimated that about 4 million people regularly use keyboards and could be susceptible to RSI. Officials at the Health and Safety Executive believe the complaint could affect as many people as silicosis did in the mining industry.