Boss’s £5,000,000 claim for slipping on Bailey’s slashed for very middle class reason

Andreas Wuchner will not receive the full £5million (Picture: Champion News)
Andreas Wuchner will not receive the full £5million (Picture: Champion News)

A business boss who sued £5million after he slipped in a puddle of spilled Bailey’s liqueur at Heathrow Airport has won his fight for compensation from British Airways.

But coffee connoisseur Andreas Wuchner will see his payout slashed, because he was rushing, having insisted on last-minute latte macchiatos before boarding.

Mr Wuchner was partly to blame for his own accident, having chosen to stop and get ‘proper’ from Starbucks while his plane was boarding.

As a result he was late and rushing whilst balancing four coffees – and did not see the spilt booze on the airport floor, Judge David Saunders said.

However the judge also found the accident could have been avoided if BA staff had taken care to cover or cordon off the spillage, or to warn passengers it was there.

He found that BA were liable for the accident but said that Mr Wuchner would receive only 80% of the value of his claim, once assessed, due to his ‘contributory negligence.’

The businessman had been rushing with his coffees (Picture: Champion News)
The businessman had been rushing with his coffees (Picture: Champion News)

During a trial at Central London County Court, the judge heard that Swiss national Mr Wuchner, then 35, was in London on a business trip when he was injured in November 2017.

The businessman was heading to Zurich via Heathrow and had already missed one flight due to traffic and rebooked, but told the judge that, due to long security queues, he and his business partner were the last to the boarding gate.

But BA barrister Tom Bird said that, despite being the last to arrive with all the other passengers already on the flight, Mr Wuchner had gone to buy extra coffees for the flight from a Starbucks counter.

It was in rushing to the boarding gate, with only 15 minutes to go before his plane was due to take off, that he slipped in the Baileys while carrying a tray containing two espressos and two latte macchiatos.

When asked why he decided to get coffee so close to departure, he told the judge: ‘I really enjoy a proper coffee out of a coffee machine, rather than the normal airport coffee, which is why I went to Starbucks.

‘I went as quickly as possible to the boarding gate, bearing in mind I had four coffees in my hand. I wasn’t running, but I went as quickly as I could. I was walking swiftly, bearing in mind the safety of my coffee cups.’

The judge ruled he was 'late by his own design' (Picture: Champion News)
The judge ruled he was ‘late by his own design’ (Picture: Champion News)

Giving judgment, Judge Saunders said both Mr Wuchner, due to his desire for proper coffee rather than airplane drinks, and the airline were at fault.

The judge said: ‘He was late. He had made himself late by his own design, and by his own admission, in buying coffees when it may have been more sensible to simply board the plane.

‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was probably not the best decision that he has ever made, and one that he now surely regrets.

‘In my view, as soon as Mr Wuchner placed himself in this pressure situation, he placed himself in a position whereby he was contributing to the accident by, proportionally, not taking sufficient care.

‘It is likely, and I accept that BA has demonstrated this, that he has not taken as much care as he should reasonably have been expected to, that it is likely that he did not pay full attention to his path and that he did not take into account the extent and effect of the items that he was carrying.’

But finding BA mostly to blame, he continued: ‘I do find it unusual that no immediate steps were taken by anyone from BA to prevent an accident.

‘Nothing appears to have been placed over the spillage to cover it up. That may have been simply because nothing was available, but it is surprising that this situation could not have been dealt with, at least temporarily, until all the passengers had boarded.’

Staff had been waiting for Heathrow’s cleaners to arrive, but should have had ‘procedures in place to avoid the accident, to provide safety, and to temporarily alleviate the situation.’

‘I have found that it was within the gift of BA’s employees to ensure that the area was safe, and that they should have done this to satisfy passenger safety, subject to the contributory negligence that I have found, so as to provide a safe area which I consider fell well within their duties in the roles that they were assigned to.”

The court heard that BA hotly contests Mr Wuchner’s £5million valuation of his claim, denying that the injuries he sustained ruined his business and left him unable to work.

The value of his payout will be decided at another trial at a later date unless agreed.

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