A solicitor representing students injured when the heating duct fell from the ceiling of the Minster College sports hall says she is confident compensation claims will be settled within the year.
Sarah Harman, from London-based Harman and Harman Solicitors, has been contacted by about a dozen families seeking compensation for trauma and injuries suffered by students who were taking exams in the hall on May 12, 2009.
They suffered from various injuries including facial injuries, cuts and bruises and shock. “Shock is the big thing,” said Ms Harman.
Of those, six were taken to hospital for treatment, but not kept in overnight.
The claim is against Kent County Council, which as the local education authority for Sheppey was responsible for the building’s safety and safety of students at the former Minster College, now the East site for the Isle of Sheppey Academy.
There were 157 students in the hall sitting their SATs exams in the sports hall when the wire rope suspension apparently failed and the heating duct plummeted to the ground.
Ms Harman said she was confident KCC would settle the claims, which are likely to be hundreds of pounds rather than thousands, although there may be a case for KCC to recover the money through a claim of its own.
She said: “We are talking about injuries to young people – injuries that were avoidable – and it is right they should be compensated.”
The firm is in the process of quantifying the claims, which will then need to be approved by Maidstone County Court, although the students will not have to attend.
Any compensation will not be able to be accessed by the young people until they turn 18.
A spokesman for Kent County Council said: “We have received claims and cannot comment at this time.”
A Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident is ongoing.