Piepenbrock v LSE [2018] EWHC 2572 (QB)

Claim for damages for psychiatric injury arising from harassment of the Claimant by one of the Defendant's other employees. Claim dismissed.

A colleague of the Claimant, Miss D, made sexual advances towards the Clamiant which were rejected. She then went on to circulate allegations of the Claimant's alleged sexual impropriety to members of the faculty, an unknown number of the Claimant's former students, Duke University and The Economist. On 11 December 2012 Miss D instigated a formal complaint procedure against the Claimant of which he was informed by the defendant on 12 December 2012. By midnight on 12 December the Claimant felt unable to continue to teach, he became ill and was seen by his general practitioner on 18 December 2012 who diagnosed an acute stress reaction. The Claimant never returned to work at the LSE. The LSE found Miss D's claim not proven. It was the Claimant's case that the defendant was vicariously liable for the actions of Miss D. The defendant was also in breach of contract and in breach of its duty to take reasonable care of the Claimant in its handling of Miss D's complaint.  As a result the Claimant suffered a severe depressive episode, which rendered him vulnerable to further episodes of depression.

The court dimissed the claim. The question for the court was whether the Defendant's action or inaction created a foreseeable risk of injury to the Claimant against which it should have protected him. the court did not find that the development of the Claimant's depressive illness should have been reasonably foreseen by the Defendant.

Published: 19/11/2018 10:11

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