Iceland worker who ‘went blind after eye popped while stacking shelves’ loses claim


Austin Arthur Fernandez, 60, sued the supermarket, claiming a blood vessel in his eye exploded while stacking shelves with heavy 5-litre bottles of water in 2015, but lost

Former Iceland worker Austin Fernandez outside High Court
Former Iceland worker Austin Fernandez outside High Court

A former Iceland worker who claims he went blind after his eye went “pop” while stacking shelves at work with heavy water bottles has lost a £500,000 compensation claim, saying he has “lost everything.”

Austin Arthur Fernandez, 60, sued the supermarket, claiming a blood vessel in his eye exploded while stacking shelves with heavy 5-litre bottles of water in 2015.

Mr Fernandez, who was already blind in one eye, said he was working a 12-hour shift at the Iceland store in Tolworth, Surrey, when he felt a “pop” while straining to lift the heavy drink bottles.

When he woke the next morning, he found he could only partly see his wife and, having suffered a haemorrhage of his one working eye, was left blind

Mr Fernandez went on to sue Iceland Foods Ltd, claiming up to £500,000 compensation, but has now seen his case thrown out by a High Court judge.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Fernandez, who said he had been claiming up to £500,000, said: “When you lose, you lose everything. I am blind and I am jobless, and I have no money.”

Mr Fernandez said he was working a 12-hour shift at the Iceland store in Tolworth, Surrey, when he felt a “pop”
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Image:

Champion News)

Mr Fernandez went on to sue Iceland Foods Ltd, claiming up to £500,000 compensation, but has now seen his case thrown out
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Image:

Champion News)

The London court heard Mr Fernandez had been working a long shift at the Tolworth branch of the food store, close to his home.

He was in the last hour of a 2pm to 2am shift when he felt a popping sensation after repeatedly bending and lifting to load shelves with water bottles.

Afterwards, he was able to drive home and it was only when he woke at 6.30am that he noticed a problem with his vision, he said in his claim.

Doctors diagnosed a sub-retinal haemorrhage of the left eye and he subsequently lost his sight in that eye, but already had “no useful sight” in his right eye due to diabetes-related issues.

“The effect has been devastating, it has left Mr Fernandez blind,” said High Court judge, Mr Justice Cotter.

Iceland, Tolworth, where Mr Fernandez was working when his eye “popped”
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Image:

Champion News)

Mr Fernandez sued his former employers after an eye expert wrote a report saying the repeated bending and lifting as he filled the shelves was probably the cause of his injury.

It could have reduced his eye’s ability to recover from spikes in pressure and ultimately led to the haemorrhage which destroyed his vision.

But the expert later performed a “u-turn” and said that it was more likely that the injury had been caused in some other spontaneous way, said the judge.

This week, he took his case to the High Court where he asked the judge to overturn a previous ruling which banned him from getting a new expert report.

His lawyers said he had an “outstanding sense of grievance” as without a new expert report his claim would have to be dismissed.

But Mr Justice Cottle upheld the earlier ruling, saying that Mr Fernandez’s first expert had had good reason to change his mind.

The evidence suggested that there was a chance the sub-retinal haemorrhage would have happened at some point anyway, he added.

“I regret to say there can be no realistic challenge to the decision and for those reasons I dismiss the appeal,” he said.

The decision means Mr Fernandez’s damages claim was dismissed. Lawyers for Iceland had denied liability for his injury.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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