In July last year Brian Piccolo, 50, won the right to damages for injuries he sustained as he was walking past Chiltern Flowers at Marylebone Station in London. He slipped on a petal and fell, damaging his back. The accident initially caused some paralysis and Mr Piccolo was hospitalised for six months and was unable to return to work.
Mr Piccolo brought the negligence claim against Chiltern Flowers, for failing to clear stray petals from the concourse outside the shop, and against Chiltern Railway Company, which had overall responsibility for running the station. The shop's owner had maintained that it was not a petal from her shop that was responsible for the accident and she used a 'clean as you go' system to ensure the concourse was clear.
However, evidence was given by a security guard who had seen the accident and had found the crushed yellow flower on which Mr Piccolo slipped. The court also heard that prior to the accident, Chiltern Railway Company had contacted Chiltern Flowers pointing out that debris on the pavement could pose a potential hazard to commuters. The judge ruled that Chiltern Flowers was liable for the accident. It had a duty of care to those passing by and it had breached that duty by failing to implement an effective system for ensuring that the pavement remained safe. Chiltern Railway Company was cleared of any wrongdoing.
In refusing leave to appeal, Lady Justice Smith said that there was no reason why Mr Piccolo should have been looking at his feet in order to avoid slipping on stray petals and in her view the florist had no reasonable prospect of success in her claim that he should bear some of the responsibility for the accident.
The level of the damages award has yet to be decided but the full amount of Mr Piccolo’s claim was £1.5 million.