Family of baby hit by flying rolling pin sue Boots

The rolling pin was hurled from a window as Boots' Dundee store

THE MOTHER of a baby who had her skull fractured by a falling rolling pin has taken Boots the Chemist to court.

The object, which fell from a third-floor window at one of the chain’s stores in Dundee’s High Street, hit one-year-old Alyssa Burns in April 2008.

Boots admitted liability out of court in June 2009 and said it was working with the girl’s family to agree compensation.

But it has now emerged her mother Claire is leading a legal action lodged with the Court of Session in Edinburgh, reported to be worth £100,000.

She wants compensation for her child’s injuries. Mrs Burns also wants compensation for the “distress and alarm” the incident has caused her.

The mother and the girl’s grandparents Henry and Margaret Howieson, who were also present at the time their granddaughter was injured, are also seeking compensation for the “mental symptoms” sparked by the event.

According to a judgement made by Lord Stewart the firm “admit liability to make reparation for the injury to the infant”.

However, lawyers acting for Boots say the mother, and the grandparents “do not have justiciable claims” and that they are “secondary victims”.

The “emotional reactions suffered by secondary victims do not give rise to liability for damages” claim the firm’s legal team.

But Lord Stewart said the grandmother, who is said to have been with the child at the moment of impact, was “potentially” a “primary victim”.

Such victims are, according to lawyers, “entitled to compensation for shock and emotional upset”.


Lord Stewart refused a motion by the firm’s lawyers to change the nature of the action from a personal injury action to an ordinary action.

And he said court papers would be adjusted to include claims the grandfather and the mother suffered from “post-traumatic stress disorder”.

According to court papers Mrs Burns went shopping in Dundee with her two children and her parents at the time of the incident.

Alyssa was in a child buggy. Mrs Burns and her father went into store leaving the children in the care of their grandmother outside.

Then a rolling pin fell from a third floor window of the Boots shop “striking the infant on the head as she sat in her buggy and fracturing her skull”.

The grandmother took the infant into her arms. The mother saw this and ran outside. The infant was screaming and the grandfather picked up the rolling pin.

When they finally admitted liability for the accident a spokesman for Boots said: “We would like to reiterate our sincere apologies to the Burns family for the upset and distress this accident has caused.

“Boots places health and safety in the workplace as a top priority and we deeply regret that the incident took place.”

At the time Boots admitted liability the Burns family, from Lochgelly in Fife, said they did not intend to reach an early agreement with the firm.

They said the preferred instead to wait and see how the incident affected their daughter in the longer term.

Alyssa was rushed to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee by ambulance where an X-ray and CT scan revealed she had a fractured skull and internal bleeding.

After a spell in the high-dependency unit and children’s ward, Alyssa was allowed home where she was said to suffer problems with her balance.