October 2014

Broken Hip Injury in Tesco Contributed to Customer’s Death

An inquest conducted by the Bradford Coroner’s Court has found that a broken hip sustained by a customer contributed to their death.

The accident occurred on 21st December 2013 when Esther Payne – aged ninety, from Steeton in West Yorkshire – was concluding her Christmas shopping at Tesco in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. As she was finishing her shopping, she was hit by a trolley ferrying beauty products around the shop that was being pushed by a Tesco employee.

The force of the impact caused Mrs Payne to fall to the floor and break her left hip. She was subsequently taken to Airedale Hospital where a pin was placed into her hip, though Mrs Payne experienced a deterioration in her health. She suffered from problems in her kidneys, and died on the 3rd January from a heart attack.

Bradford Coroner’s Court conducted an investigation into her death, and Mrs Payne was described as being fir for he age. Evidence from previous studies also showed that ten percent of elderly patients that suffer similar injuries to Mrs Payne’s die within one month of the accident, and that thirty percent die within a year.

Stephen Purser, the Tesco Group’s Safety Director, was questioned at the inquest by Assistant Coroner Dominic Bell concerning the movement of the roll-cage trolleys, such as the one that hit Mrs Payne. Mr Purser said that the policy was that the cages should be pulled, not pushed.

However, Jane Bradbury – Bradford Council’s Health and Safety Investigator – told the inquest’s jury that she had scheduled a visit to Tesco and had not seen the employees pulling the cages, but pushing them – contrary to Tesco’s own policies. She also told the jury the CCTV footage had failed to capture the accident, as none of the shop’s eight camera pointed on the spot.

Assistant Coroner Bell and Emily Formby, Tesco’s barrister, said that the lack of witnesses and CCTV footage meant that it was impossible to state without doubt how Mrs Payne’s accident occurred, but the inquest’s role was not to lay blame.

The jury returned a verdict that acknowledged that, while Mrs Payne died of a heart attack, the broken hip that she sustained whilst shopping in Tesco had been a contributing factor.