By Kevin Duguid
PRISON chiefs have settled a 20,000 legal action lodged by a delivery driver who injured himself shipping crates of methadone into a Scottish jail.
George Lennon was transporting the drugs from the gate of HM Prison Glenochil when he hurt his back.
Construction work was taking place at the Clackmannanshire jail and he could not drop the supplies off directly at the prison’s health centre.
And a drugs van with a tail lift, usually used to transport deliveries to the health centre, was being used to take supplies to the prison canteen and was unavailable.
Mr Lennon instead used a minibus to move the shipment.
The drugs were contained within 10 boxes and were distributed over 16 seats on the bus, it was claimed.
The 54-year-old suffered his injury while lifting the boxes over the seats, according to court papers. In documents lodged with the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Mr Lennon’s lawyers said there were size and space constraints on the bus. He had to adopt an
“awkward stretching posture’ and needed to
“lift and manipulate the boxes at arm’s length’, his legal team said.
As a result of the lifting operation Mr Lennon suffered the onset of
“increasing back pain.”
His lawyers claimed prison chiefs failed to provide enough suitable vehicles for their employees to use for routine manual handling tasks on the day Mr Lennon injured his back.
“They knew or should have known that a larger volume of drugs was generally delivered on Thursdays, including large bottles of methadone,’ they said.
His legal team said prison bosses should have known the box van equipped with a tail lift was needed for canteen stores and could not be in two places at once.
Mr Lennon had no other choice than to use the minibus, his lawyers said.
Had he refused to use the bus to transport the goods he would have been reprimanded, his lawyers claimed.
Lennon, from Alloa, was injured on May 15, 2008. His solicitors said he was bedbound for three days after he was injured and was subsequently confined to his home for four weeks. He was unable to return to work until February the following year.
Mr Lennon had a degenerative spinal condition, which was present before the accident, but he had never needed to take any time off work because of it before his injury, his solicitors said.
But afterwards his movement was restricted. He claimed the SPS was negligent and sued for loss of earnings.
The case was settled out of court in May this year.
Following the accident prison management changed procedures so that drugs were delivered by their suppliers directly to the prison health centre.
It is not known whether Mr Lennon is still working for the SPS. He was unavailable for comment.