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Successful defence of a multimillion pound occupational stress case: Piepenbrock v London School of Economics




Following a ten day trial in July, Nicola Davies J has dismissed a claim brought by a teaching fellow against his former employer, the LSE.  The claim arose out of an incident that occurred on a trip that the Claimant and his Graduate Teaching Assistant (“GTA”) took to the United States.  Following the trip the GTA complained to the LSE about the Claimant’s conduct.  The Claimant alleged that her actions in complaining were malicious and amounted to harassment for which the LSE was vicariously liable.  He also alleged that the complaint had been negligently mishandled.  The Claimant went off sick and, although he later returned to teaching for a period at another institution, claimed that the LSE was liable for loss of earnings for the duration of his remaining career. 

 

The court concluded that aspects of the Claimant’s conduct whilst abroad were unacceptable; accordingly the GTA’s complaint was justified and not malicious.  As a result the harassment claim failed.  Although the court found that some criticisms of early delays in handling the complaint were justified these were not sufficiently serious that they gave rise to a foreseeable risk of injury.  The LSE was not otherwise on notice of any particular psychological vulnerability on the part of the Claimant and, as a result, the claim failed for want of foreseeability. 

 

Andrew Warnock QC and Laura Johnson represented the LSE on instructions from DAC Beachcroft London

 

You can read the full Judgment here

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