Man who slipped in puddle of Baileys on way to BA flight could get £4m

<span>Wuchner said he flew 2 metres in the air after slipping, banged his head off the floor and has since suffered from repeated headaches.</span><span>Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA</span>
Wuchner said he flew 2 metres in the air after slipping, banged his head off the floor and has since suffered from repeated headaches.Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

A passenger who suffered a traumatic brain injury after slipping in a puddle of Baileys while heading for a flight could receive up to £4m in compensation.

Andreas Wuchner, who was 35 at the time of the incident at Heathrow airport in November 2017, was due to fly home to Zurich after he and his business partner had to rebook flights as a result of missing a previous plane due to traffic.

After making their way through security, the pair were the last passengers through the boarding gate for their new flight. Wuchner, who ran an office supplies company, stopped to buy two espressos and two macchiatos from Starbucks.

While balancing the four coffees on a tray and rushing to the gate 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure, Wuchner slipped on a puddle of Baileys on the airport floor, Central London county court heard.

Asked why he stopped for coffees so close to his new flight’s departure time, Wuchner – who had been in London for an event at Wembley stadium – said: “I really enjoy a proper coffee out of a coffee machine, rather than the normal airport coffee, which is why I went to Starbucks.

“I went as quickly as possible to the boarding gate, bearing in mind I had four coffees in my hand. I wasn’t running, but I went as quickly as I could. I was walking swiftly, bearing in mind the safety of my coffee cups.”

He said he flew 2 metres in the air after slipping on the alcohol, dropping the coffees and banging his head off the floor. He has since had repeated headaches that can last as long as two weeks since the incident, the court heard.

Judge Saunders found BA liable for the accident and decided Wuchner could receive 80% of the value of his £5m claim, once assessed. He was denied 100% due to his “contributory negligence”.

The accident might have been avoided if BA staff had covered the spillage or warned passengers it was there, the judge concluded.

Saunders said: “It seems inevitable that, through his delay and attempt to obtain last-minute coffees, the claimant had placed himself under greater pressure to board the flight in time, having missed his earlier flight, and been delayed in security.

“It is a likely scenario that he was anxious to catch his flight, and that the pressure he had imposed upon himself had made that pressure even greater. That, in my view, contributed to the accident.”

BA’s barrister, Tom Bird, said it was Wuchner rushing to the boarding gate with four coffees that had caused the incident and argued that BA should be exonerated from liability.