Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 15:03 UK

Dinner lady bid to sue boy fails

A school dinner lady has failed in her attempt to seek damages from a boy who crashed into her while playing tag with friends in a Dorset playground.

Michelle Orchard, 42, was seeking thousands of pounds after the then 13-year-old ran into her at Corfe Hills School, Corfe Mullen, in January 2004.

She spent six weeks in hospital and her lawyers said she suffered brain damage.

Three Court of Appeal judges threw out her claim saying the boy did not break any rules.

The boy's barrister had claimed that if she had been successful it might have restricted the kinds of games children could play at school.

Ms Orchard had been struck in the face when the boy tumbled backwards into her, the court heard.

'Carte blanche'

She was left with a broken nose, damaged teeth and her lawyers said she suffered serious brain damage and was unable to work after the incident.

Lord Justice Waller said: "Thirteen-year-old boys will be 13-year-old boys who will play tag."

Mr Waller said he felt sympathy for her but the boys playing tag were not breaking any rules and should not be held liable for the accident.

"Parents and schools are there to control children and it would be a retrograde step to visit liability on a 13-year-old for simply playing a game in the area where he was allowed to do so," he said.

Her case was being heard at the Court of Appeal after her claim was dismissed by a County Court judge at a hearing in April last year.

Her barrister, Anthony Coleman, had argued that the ruling had given teenagers "carte blanche" to engage in chasing games "without needing to give a second thought to other children, teachers, or dinner ladies, who might happen to end up in the way".

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