Giant Killer !

Posted: 16th November 2017

GoalCrewkerne amateur footballer Kelvin Charles is celebrating his own personal giant killing after a long contest with national retailer, Specsavers.

The 29 year old from Crewkerne was injured during a local football match just over two years ago.  He needed 5 stitches to his left eyebrow after the prescription goggles he purchased from Chard Specsavers broke just 9 minutes into the Crewkerne Rangers game at Wadham School.

Kelvin spends a lot of his time refereeing but also enjoys a game in goal. Sadly, the spectacles he needs to keep a close eye on the ball are obviously are not suitable for the rough and tumble of the six yard box.

After he became aware of the prescription sports goggles in 2014, Kelvin went to Specsavers in Chard to check them out.  “These goggles seemed the ideal solution and they were advertised for precisely this sort of activity,” he explained.

EyebrowSure enough, the store representative told him this product was just the ticket for him.  These goggles weren’t just strong enough for football – they would withstand the force of a baseball!

But a few minutes into the game in September 2015, the ball hit Kelvin in the face and shattered the goggles which in turn inflicted a deep cut on his left eye brow.  It was bad enough to need 5 stitches, 5 weeks off football and leave him with a visible scar.

Kelvin headed for Williamsons.  We advised him that Specsavers were in breach of contract – that the goggles were not of satisfactory quality, alternatively, not fit for purpose.  We got in touch with Specsavers.

They told us we should deal with the manufacturers, in the USA, but that as far as they were concerned the goggles were manufactured to specification and there was no liability!

“This is a common tactic in Product Liability claims”, says director Michael Williamson.  The retailer, or its insurers, almost always try to persuade claimants and their solicitors to direct proceedings at the manufacturer and are very often assisted in this exercise by the manufacturers themselves.

The reason is simple.  The unfortunate victim usually has stronger rights against the retailer, with whom they contracted directly, than they do against the manufacturer where the right of action arises by virtue of the Consumer Protection Act 1987.  The duties under that legislation are not as strict as the contractual terms implied into all consumer purchases.

The manufacturers know they will have to indemnify the retailer anyway so it makes sense to try and persuade the customer to take a shot at them but from a weaker position. Anybody trying to claim without the benefit of legal advice is likely to be short-changed.

KelvinIn this case, we know that Specsavers are now going after the manufacturer.”

Specsavers refused to give in and proceedings had to be issued in the county court in March of this year.  A defence was filed and the matter reached the point of formal directions from the court for further conduct and trial.

“At that point “, says Michael, ”insurers’ solicitors suggested that we needed an expert witness who would cost almost as much as the value of the claim to give an opinion as to whether or not the goggles were defective. We said it was simple – man buys goggles advertised and sold to him as being suitable for playing football, he wears goggles to play football, they break and injure him.  Game over.”

At that point, happily, the insurers and their solicitors saw sense and quickly offered Kelvin a four figure sum to compensate him for his pain and suffering and residual effects of his injury.  He accepted and subsequently the insurers paid the lion’s share of his costs.

So, at the end of a hard fought match, it’s a victory for Kelvin!

“I want to thank Michael, Melissa and the rest of the team for a fantastic performance,” says Kelvin. “I will always be grateful for their time and effort in securing the win!”

If you have suffered injury or loss because of defects in goods or services supplied to you, don’t be fobbed off.  Don’t let them add insult to injury.  Come and talk to the experts.  Email us or call 01460 200450