Judgment was handed down today by the DCJ of the Thames Valley, Beds and Herts, HHJ Melissa Clark, following a four-day trial in the case of Sumegi v Gate Gourmet UK Ltd. The case concerned a chef who suffered an accident at work as long ago as October 2012. The claim commenced as a low value fast track claim but the claim was re-tracked when the value shot up to in excess of £500,000 as the claimant alleged he had failed to recover from a back injury with associated urological and gastroenterological symptoms which he said prevented him from returning to work in kitchens. DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd and Angela Agar of Zurich instructed Sadie Crapper to guide the investigation into the claim and manage the tactics through what turned out (thanks to COVID-19) to be a further three long years of the claim.
Through tenacious management of disclosure by the Defendant’s legal team, the Defendant was able to expose the claimant as a persistent and committed fraudster. Social media material proved particularly devastating as it revealed Mr Sumegi to be a hands-on father to his young family who he had driven across the country on numerous beach holidays and camping trips to facilitate active hobbies like fishing, paddle boarding and kayaking, despite claiming that he was so disabled he could only work 5 hours a week at home and being supported on benefits. Surveillance demonstrated the claimant’s propensity to use a walking aid only when attending medico-legal appointments.
In a comprehensive, thorough and careful judgment, HHJ Melissa Clark found the claimant had been fundamentally dishonest and dismissed his claim pursuant to section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. She ordered the claimant to repay an interim payment plus interest and awarded the defendant its costs on the indemnity basis with a substantial payment on account of costs.
Sadie was instructed by John Goodman and Amy Hickey of DAC Beachcroft and Angela Agar of Zurich.