A FORMER landlady is trying to sue Henley pub company Brakspear for almost £1 million.
Mira Bateman, who ran the Plowden Arms in Reading Road, Shiplake, for five years, is seeking compensation after an accident on a ladder while at work.
The company denies all liability and argues that Mrs Bateman delayed too long in launching her claim.
Mrs Bateman, 57, suffered a serious spinal injury while putting away the pub’s Christmas decorations on New Year’s Day in 2007, the High Court in London heard.
She fell, knocking herself out, when an eyebolt securing the top of the ladder to the attic hatch came away from the frame as she was climbing it.
The court heard that she was “hung by the neck” from the rungs of the ladder before dropping unconscious to the floor.
Mrs Bateman has launched a compensation claim for £975,000 against Brakspear, saying that nerve damage to her spine has led to painful and debilitating symptoms which have become progressively worse. She also suffered a broken jaw, neck injuries and lost a tooth. Mark James, for Mrs Bateman, said that while she has only “fractured memories” of her fall because of the blow to her head, a medical expert surmised from the nature of her neck and facial injures that she fell and hung by the neck from the rungs of the ladder after being knocked out. She initially thought her injuries were superficial but two years later was referred to a consultant with a painful back.
Mr James said she then had an MRI scan, which revealed that the accident had caused serious damage to her spine and neck.
Mrs Bateman told the court she couldn’t recall the accident. She said: “The reason I went up to the attic — and it was the first time — was that we were taking the Christmas decorations down in the pub. The attic was supposed to be easy to access. There was no light. The ladder came off and I came off. I found myself in the accident and emergency room on January 2.”
She said that after the accident she never used the attic again and it was accessed only by the pub’s chefs to fetch or store decorations which adorn the pub at Christmas and Easter and to store the garden umbrellas in winter.
Mrs Bateman said: “The brewery was responsible for my accident. It was their fault, as my landlord, for not providing me with proper access to the attic.
“The worst injuries I suffered were to my neck and my spinal problems are getting worse from day to day. I’m not able to walk straight now without tripping.”
Judge Andrew Edis QC will decide whether her claim should be allowed to proceed.
Mrs Bateman was ordered to leave the pub in March 2010 where she had been squatting since it was closed down by Brakspear two months before when it decided to end her six-year tenancy agreement.
The pub was recently taken over by a Matthew Woodley and his fiancée Ruth Peters.
Mr Woodley, 29, who has worked at restaurants owned by Gordon Ramsey and Lawrence Keogh, will be head chef while Miss Peters, also 29, will be front of house.