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Former Royal Marine represented by Robert O’Leary is awarded over £500,000 for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus

Inglis v Ministry of Defence

Harry Steinberg KC and Robert O’Leary appeared for Mr Inglis, a former Royal Marine awarded £545,766 for his noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

Mr Inglis joined the Royal Marines aged 17 and left in 2012 at the age of 32, having sought voluntary discharge. He was exposed to noise from thousands of rounds of ammunition, grenades and aircraft.

Mr Inglis’ hearing loss was noticed by medical officers when his hearing was tested, and Mr Inglis was advised that he should keep away from noise, but no steps were taken to enable him to do so.

The MoD contended that (1) there can be no loss of earnings in circumstances where Mr Inglis had found employment after he was voluntarily discharged and (2) that he was only marginally disabled and so a Smith v Manchester lump sum award should have been made rather than the loss being calculated by a conventional multiplier/multiplicand method.

At trial, the judge accepted Mr Inglis’ evidence that he had left the Marines because he had sustained noise-induced hearing loss and he was concerned that continued service would cause further damage. The judge found that Mr Inglis would have served his full 22 year term, when he left he had 7 years remaining.

The judge also found that Mr Inglis’ hearing loss and tinnitus caused difficulties in his work environment including in hearing conversations in meetings or speaking on the telephone. Hearing aids improved the situation but not by much. These adverse effects impacted on his normal day-to-day activities. His disability was substantial and affected the kind of work which he could undertake. Mr Inglis therefore met the definition of disability within the Ogden Tables.

The judge accepted that a multiplier/multiplicand method is conventional approach to calculating future loss of earnings and should normally be used, even in less severe cases of disability. In this case he was able to (a) make findings as to Mr Inglis’ annual earnings on both an uninjured and injured basis, (b) determine that Mr Inglis was disabled within the meaning of the Ogden Tables and (c) that that disability has a particular impact of his ability to carry out his day-to-day work. The judge did however adjust the reduction factors to be applied to the multiplier to take account of Mr Inglis’ individual characteristics, he was notably hard-working, his disability did not affect his mobility and had been in work since he had left the Marines.

The judge made the following awards:

General damages £25,000
Loss of congenial employment £8,000
Loss of earnings to date -£24,133.30
Loss of benefits to date £7,662.36
Miscellaneous past losses 0
Future loss of earnings £257,518
Future loss of benefits £562.19
Future loss of pension £351,313
Future claim for hearing aids £54,919

Liability was compromised between the parties prior to trial at 80:20 in Mr Inglis’ favour, and, with the addition of interest, judgment was entered for him in the sum of £545,766.

The Defendant’s application for permission to appeal was dismissed.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

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