Cheshire law firm helps win £10m damages for former soldiers

Legal ruling

A law firm in Wilmslow has secured substantial damages of over £10m on behalf of three former servicemen.

The soldiers suffered severe injuries when their inadequately-armoured vehicles struck roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.

In securing the settlements Hilary Meredith solicitors instructed barristers David Knifton QC and Chris Barnes from Exchange Chambers in Manchester.

The vehicles in question were Pinzgauer troop carriers, manufactured by BAE Systems PLC.

Experience during combat operations in Iraq had raised serious concerns that the Pinzgauer provided inadequate blast protection from roadside explosives.

As a result, the vehicles had been nicknamed “coffins on wheels” by UK troops.

Despite such concerns being widely publicised through Parliamentary questions and newspaper articles, the MoD procured a fleet of 166 Pinzgauer vehicles, which were introduced into combat operations in Afghanistan in April 2007.

In 2008 a Royal Marine serving with 42 Commando suffered multiple severe injuries and fractures when the Pinzgauer Vector in which he was travelling as a front seat passenger struck an IED.

Following a number of similar incidents, the MOD agreed in May 2009 that the vehicles were to be withdrawn from operations in Afghanistan, due to their vulnerability.

Nevertheless  in 2009 a Pinzgauer truck was deployed as an ambulance to recover a casualty injured in a previous attack.

It struck an IED, causing the driver to suffer an above-knee amputation of his right leg, and a Territorial Reserve officer in the front passenger seat to suffer severe psychological and physical injuries.

In each case, it was alleged by the claimant that their injuries would have been avoided had they been travelling in suitably-armoured vehicles.

The claims were vigorously defended by the MoD.

The MOD agreed in 2016 that it would settle the claims relating to the Pinzgauer vehicles, without any admission of liability.

Following exchange of medical evidence, substantial awards were negotiated on behalf of each claimant at settlement meetings held in Liverpool and London in December 2019 and January 2020.

Simon Quinn, partner at Hilary Meredith Solicitors said: “After a hard fought and lengthy battle for compensation in which there were very real risks of failure, particularly regarding Combat Immunity, it has been a privilege to represent these claimants who have shown resilience, perseverance and sheer grit in their determination to achieve justice and hold the MoD to account.

“The seven figure settlements we have reached in each case reflects the serious nature of the claimants’ injuries together with their subsequent medical discharge from the Armed Forces.

“It is to be hoped that in any future conflict our troops will be provided with the best equipment available before death or serious injury occurs.”

 

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