1872 – Action for the loss of an Eye


1872 August 22nd Leeds Mercury

Action for the loss of an eye 

Sadler v Smith (special jury)

Mr Waddy, with whom was Mr Forbes, appeared for the plaintive, Thomas Sadler of Kilnhurst near Rotherham; and Mr Seymour, Q.C., with whom was Mr Lawrence, for the defendant, Mr Charles Smith, was a nephew of the Rev Arthur Fullerton, Rector of Thrybergh, near Sheffield.

The action was brought to recover damages as compensation for the loss of an eye, alleged to have been caused by the negligent use of a gun by the defendant. At the time of the accident, plaintiff was employed as a Roll Turner at the works of Sir John Brown and Co Ltd at Swinton. On 16 October, 1870, he went to Denaby Pit. He returned in the afternoon along Denaby Lane, and was joined by a Collier, named William Cooper, who resides at Denaby Row, and his son. They came to a field on the right of the road in which were the defendant and James Fullerton (son of the reverent Mr Fullerton) were ranging the field for Partridge. They were attended by a gamekeeper named Hill, who was flying as a kite an imitation of the bird known by that name, its object being to frighten the coveys, and prevent them flying away until or who were brought within gunshot. A labourer named Cousins was also with the party. It was alleged that while the plaintiff was passing the field. The defendant fired at some partridges, and one of the shots struck the plaintiff’s right eye and destroyed it. The elder Cooper was also struck on the neck. Not only was plaintiff’s righteye destroyed, but the other had also become affected by reason of sympathy. He had since been unable to follow his occupation of a Roll Turner, an operation described by several witnesses as requiring great nicety of eyesight. Upon that work he made an average of4 pounds 10 shillings per week and often as much as8 pounds; but since he lost his eye he had earned only 25 shillings (£1.25)as an iron roller, being incapacitated for Roll turning. He now claimed in addition to the amount of his bill for medical attendance and nursing a sum of £4 a week for 15 months.

William Cooper having given corroborative testimony; Dr Wilkinson, of Sheffield, stated that plaintive had lost the sight of the right eye completely, and that the other eye was weak. The process of Roll turning required very accurate eyesight; and he did not consider the plaintive and now sufficient eyesight to enable him to work at that work as a trade. The left eye might become stronger in time.

Dr Hall of Sheffield gave similar testimony.

The defence was that it was not defendant, but Mr Fullerton (who is now in Canada), who fired the shot which injured the plaintive. The gamekeeper, and James Hill, was called in support of this statement, as was the defendant (a curate), who stated that he did not fire in the direction where plaintiff was; and Mr Dobb, an architect, who wouldpost to the accuracy of certain plans produced in the case. The first name witness, Hill, stated that defendant shot was not in the direction of plenty, but that that of Mr Fullerton was.

His Lordship, having s summed up, the jury found for plaintive; damages £500

An application was made for leave to move on the ground of excessive damage. His Lordship said he should consider it.