Student who lost hearing after fire alarm went off at salon wins £240k damages

A dance student has won £240,000 in damages after she suffered permanent hearing loss after fire alarms went off in a tanning salon.

Haesel McDonald worked part-time in a salon owned by Indigo Sun Retail Ltd in Dundee while she studied at college between January 2015 and February 2016.

But in December 2015, the 25-year-old suffered permanent damage to her hearing after a fire alarm went off.

She alerted her manager, Steven Campbell, who ordered her to stay on duty after he had used tape to try and muffle the sound of the alarms.

She completed her shift but later suffered headaches and tinnitus.

Experts estimated that she had been exposed to noise levels of between 87.5 and 82.3 decibels.

Haesel suffered problems for months afterwards and complained of being unable to hear properly during classes and when speaking to others.

She moved back to her home in Inverness and consulted doctors in May 2016 before senior medics confirmed she would need to use hearing aids.

The student launched legal action against Indigo Sun claiming she suffered loss, injury and damage through their negligence.

Miss McDonald graduated with first-class honours in contemporary dance but abandoned pursuing it as a career due to a loss of confidence.

She plans to study sports science but needs specialist hearing aids costing almost £4,000, which can cope with the levels of exercise needed.

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The court heard how these hearing aids require to be replaced every three years.

Indigo Sun's legal team argued there had not been a breach of duty but Sheriff John Mundy has now ruled she should be awarded £241,277 in damages.

The sheriff's written judgement issued at the All Scotland Personal Injury Court said: "The defender’s employee Steven Campbell was negligent in failing to instruct the pursuer to remove herself from the premises when he became aware of her exposure to the noise of the alarm, both at the time of the pursuer’s telephone call to him, and at any event when he arrived at the premises later.

“He knew or ought to have known that to do otherwise risked her safety. The defender is vicariously liable for that negligence.

"On 12 December 2015, the pursuer was exposed to conditions, which gave rise to a significant and reasonably foreseeable risk of injury in the form of tinnitus and hearing loss.

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"The history and development of the pursuer’s symptoms are consistent with there being a causal link between the exposure to noise and the damage to her hearing.

"It is more likely than not that as a result of the exposure to noise on 12 December 2015 within the defender’s premises, the pursuer developed tinnitus and associated moderate to severe high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.

"The recovery in damages of the cost of private hearing aids for day to day use and use during vigorous physical activity for the purpose of the pursuer’s future career and participation in dance is reasonable."

Indigo Sun were approached for comment by the Sun. Miss McDonald could not be contacted.

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