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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 12:54 GMT
Family win 1.8m ambulance ruling
ambulance generic
The ambulance service did not dispute liability for the fatal crash
The family of a man from Hay-on-Wye who died when his car collided with an ambulance in mid Wales have won 1.8m compensation after a legal battle.

Judges had delayed their decision on the pay out after the Welsh Ambulance Service challenged their ruling on the death of Gordon Williams, 49, in 2001.

But judges at London's Court of Appeal ruled that the total awarded in Cardiff County Court last June should stand.

The judges also ordered the Trust pay more than 100,000 in interest.

Mr Williams' widow Jennifer, 59, and adult three children, David, Sarah and Ruth won the award based on the 4m wealth and earnings potential of the Hay-on-Wye builders' merchant.

The court heard Mr Williams had also built up a property empire "from zero" through his determination and flair, and had a collection of vintage steam engines and agricultural machinery valued at around 500,000.

The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust did not dispute liability for the fatal crash on the B4350 near Glasbury, Powys in June 2001, but argued the damages payout should be substantially cut.

It was irrelevant that David and Sarah had made a success of the business
Lady Justice Smith

It argued that the trial judge was wrong to find the family so heavily dependent on Mr Williams's earning power.

At the Appeal Court, William Stevenson QC for the ambulance service claimed that, as Mr Williams's business had continued to thrive under his children's direction, the family had in effect lost nothing financially by his death.

The court heard David and Sarah Williams had taken over their father's businesses, including the builders' merchants FJ Williams of Hay, and had later made a "spectacular" if unexpected success.

Dependents

Mr Stevenson said the 1.8m award was effectively a "windfall" for the family.

Lady Justice Smith, sitting with Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Lloyd, rejected this claim and said "it was plain" that Mrs Williams and the children were dependants of Mr Williams at the time of his death.

"The fact that each of them was as well off after the death as before, because David and Sarah took over responsibility for managing the business and did so successfully, is nothing to the point," she said.

"It was irrelevant that David and Sarah had made a success of the business...the dependency is fixed at the moment of death; it is what the dependants would probably have received as benefit from the deceased, had the deceased not died.

"What decisions people make afterwards is irrelevant."

As well as the interest charge, the Trust will have to pay 100,000 of the legal costs and the damages, within 28 days.



SEE ALSO
Wait for ambulance crash ruling
01 Feb 08 |  Mid Wales
Ambulance crash award challenged
30 Jan 08 |  Mid Wales

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