The case of Carol Ravencroft and IKEA recently heard at Manchester County Court does IKEA little credit. Carol was shopping in the Warrington IKEA store with her daughter and three-year-old grandson when a wardrobe which had recently been moved by staff fell towards her. She instinctively threw out her arms to protect her grandson and was injured by the falling wardrobe. She looked to IKEA to apologise and compensate her for her injuries and when this was refused was left with no alternative other than to make a claim for damages.
IKEA who say that their prime concern is always the safety of their customers defended the claim on the basis that Carol was a fraud and that the claim should be dismissed as being fundamentally dishonest. There was no dispute that the wardrobe had fallen but Carol’s injuries were denied notwithstanding the evidence.
The judge found that IKEA had adopted a stance of suspicion rather than sympathy. It appeared that they were trying to use tactics to put her off in the hope that she would drop her claim. The judge found that there was nothing to support the suggestion that Carol was acting fraudulently as had been alleged. He awarded her £3500 in damages together with her costs.
The defence of fundamental dishonesty to a personal injury claim has been available to a defendant since early 2015 as a response to fraudulent whiplash claims. Defendants have used this strategy in a number of cases but this case shows that caution must be exercised by large and powerful organisations with unlimited resources when making groundless accusations against innocent claimants.