Family's £400,000 compensation battle

The family of a recycling plant foreman who died when he was pulled through a paper shredder in front of his teenage son launched a High Court battle yesterday for more than £400,000 compensation.

The family of a recycling plant foreman who died when he was pulled through a paper shredder in front of his teenage son launched a High Court battle yesterday for more than £400,000 compensation.

Father-of-three Kevin Arnup, 36, was working alongside his son Jason at the MW White Ltd recycling plant in Station Road, Ketteringham, near Norwich, three days before Christmas in 2003, when the paper shredder they were operating became blocked.

They had both climbed inside the machine to unblock it when the shredder started up again.

Jason was rescued due to swift work by his colleagues but his father, known as Arnie, was pulled through the shredder and died instantly.

Mr Arnup's widow, Melly Arnup, of Bowers Avenue, Mile Cross, Norwich, is now suing the company for more than £400,000 over the death of her husband, who had been working at the plant for six years and was the most senior member of staff on site.

Jason, who was 15 at the time, is also suing the company.

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The family's counsel, Robert Weir, said the company admitted primary liability in November 2005 for the horrible accident but was arguing that Mr Arnup was himself careless and it was disputing the amount of the payout due to his widow and son.

The company also argued at the High Court that £229,000 already paid out to Mrs Arnup should be deducted from the final damages award.

The money already paid was made up of £129,000 through the company's death-in-service benefit trust fund, linked to Mr Arnup's pension scheme, and a further £100,000 from the employer's benefit trust fund, a company insurance policy.

Both payments were triggered by Mr Arnup's death and paid to his widow.

Christopher Purchas, for MW White Ltd, argued these sums should count against the damages awarded for Mrs Arnup's claim for “loss of dependency” on her husband.

But Mr Weir argued before Judge Richard Seymour that the company funds were separate from any issue of loss of dependency.

“The contentions of the defendant rest on the premise that the monies were paid to the claimant as compensation for her loss of dependency. But there is no evidence to support this submission.

“Those monies were paid to Mrs Arnup as the widow of the deceased,” said Mr Weir.

“What is clear is that the company did not pay Mrs Arnup monies as part payment of this compensation claim.

“When the sums were paid over in 2004, liability was firmly in issue.

“The position where a defendant makes a part payment or indeed settles a compensation claim for damages is quite different. There the payment accrues to the claimant as a result of the defendant's tortuous liability, not as a result of the deceased's death,” he concluded.

The hearing continues and Judge Seymour has indicated he will reserve his decision until a later date.

Paul White, owner of MW White, was jailed for a year in September 2005 after his failure to install a basic switch led to the horrific death of his lifelong friend.

He admitted manslaughter and failing to ensure the workers' safety under the Health and Safety Act.