Victim of ME loses damages

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The Independent Online
A man suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome who claimed that a road crash made his condition worse was yesterday stripped of pounds 162,153 damages by the Court of Appeal.

It was the first time the courts had awarded damages to a victim of the illness, otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME.

Ronald Page, 53, a teacher, who has not worked since the accident, was told that he must lose the award when three appeal judges ruled that the High Court had been wrong to grant it in December 1992.

They said the trial judge, Mr Justice Otton, had failed properly to consider whether any psychological injury which had occurred to Mr Page as a result of the accident was 'reasonably foreseeable'.

Mr Page, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, contended that the condition, which he had previously experienced in a mild form, became chronic and permanent after his car collided with another car driven by Simon Smith, also of Bury St Edmunds, in 1987.

Mr Page suffered no physical injury but within hours experienced a severe reaction and a re-occurrence of the ME symptoms he had suffered for 20 years.

Lord Justice Farquharson said there was no doubt that damages could be claimed for 'careless affliction of nervous shock', but it was necessary to prove that shock was foreseeable and the nature of the mental injury 'must be such as cannot be withstood by the ordinary man'.

The circumstances of the accident, taken as a whole, did not establish that Mr Smith could reasonably have foreseen that Mr Page would have suffered any mental injury.

Later Anthony Collins, solicitor for Mr Page, said: 'Mr Page is disappointed and is considering his legal options'.

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