Tree surgeon crushed by 60ft ash sues bosses for millions

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A tree surgeon who was left paralysed after a 60-foot tall ash tree fell on him at work is suing his bosses for £8million. Richard Millard was left with the life-changing injury when the tree he was cutting down fell in the wrong direction in January 2019.

Mr Millard was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Stoke University Hospital where he underwent surgery on his spine. He then spent months in rehabilitation.

He is suing his former bosses at Cornthwaite Tree Care Ltd in Chorley for £8million, according to court documents reported by MailOnline.

The company has accepted liability for damages, but the amount is due to be agreed at the High Court, the same publication reports.

A writ made public in February said Mr Millard and two other arborists were sent to fell the tree at an embankment in Bollington Recreation Ground in Bollington, Cheshire, on January 31, 2019.

It added they were shown a photograph of part of the tree, but when they arrived at the recreation ground the tree was taller than they expected, according to a report in Stoke on Trent Live.

A break appeared about six metres up the trunk of the ash, leaving part of the tree caught in the branches of two oaks.

The same publication reported the writ as saying the team tried pulling the damaged tree with a rope and pulleys, but this proved unsuccessful.

They then decided to attach another rope below the break while the ropes were tightened.

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Mr Millard said he hatched an escape plan in case something went wrong, using his chainsaw to cut away an escape route of about five to six metres, leading away from the tree.

After a number of attempts, Mr Millard cut into the tree, heard a crack and began running along his escape route.

However, instead of the tree falling in the direction it was being pulled towards by the ropes, it fell towards Mr Millard and hit him, according to the writ reported by Stoke On Trent Live.

MailOnline reports that Cornthwaite has agreed liability to make a payout to Mr Millard totalling 80 percent of the value of his claim once it has been assessed by the court.

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According to the same publication, the company has said in court papers: “Whilst no admissions are made in relation to any specific allegations of negligence/breach of duty made by the claimant, for the purposes of this action only it is admitted that the accident was caused by the negligence of the defendant.”

Unless a settlement can be struck, the case will proceed to a full trial.

A GoFundMe page set up by the family raised more than £14,000 to support Mr Millard and his partner.

The family said in a statement posted on the fundraising page: “His life has changed forever and he has a long and difficult road to recovery ahead of him.”

They added: “Many of you who know Richard know how warm hearted and gregarious he is and even now this side of him is shining through.”

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