September 18, 2021

Flower arranger who cut his wrists on vase at Yotam Ottolenghi restaurant to get up to £100,000


Davy D’Agostino is in line for up to six-figure damages after falling on stairs and cutting his wrist on stairs at a central London restaurant

A flower arranger who suffered horrific injuries when he fell while carrying a vase at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Belgravia restaurant is in line to get a compensation payout of up to £100,000.

Davy D’Agostino, 42, was replenishing flowers at the celebrity chef’s Motcomb Street branch when he slipped while carrying the heavy vase up stairs in August 2014.

The goldfish bowl-sized vase smashed and the glass shards sliced through the flesh and tendons of his wrist, leaving him pouring with blood in the narrow staircase.

Mr D’Agostino, who was left holding his wrist together in the fear that he might bleed to death, had to be rushed to hospital for surgery, he told Judge Christopher Lethem at Central London County Court.

The former barman initially sued Mr Ottolenghi’s company, blaming defective stairs, but dropped the case, and has now won up to £100,000 damages from his former boss, florist Caroline Farthing.

Judge Lethem said the rookie flower arranger had been told to carry the vase up and downstairs to be emptied, cleaned and filled with six litres of water for display – which was an ‘inherently dangerous’ thing to do.

The court heard Mr D’Agostino began working for Ms Farthing, 44, of Loughton, Essex, who was a regular in the pub where he worked before it closed in 2014.

He would accompany her as she drove to her clients’ premises, including Ottolenghi, replenishing flower displays overnight.

The incident happened at Yotam Ottolenghi’s Belgravia restaurant in August 2014

The Belgravia restaurant-deli is one of six owned across by London by Yotam Ottolenghi’s company, Ottolenghi Ltd.

The chef and food writer is known for his inventive dishes, characterised by unorthodox ingredients and flavour combinations.

The judge said Mr D’Agostino had received about 45 minutes’ training from Ms Farthing in lifting and carrying, flower arranging and other parts of the job.

Mr D’Agostino insisted that he was instructed to take the vase to a large sink downstairs to be emptied, cleaned, refilled and returned upstairs.

On the way back up, he slipped on a step and fell forward onto the full vase, suffering ‘deep lacerations’ to his wrist, said the judge.

Giving evidence, Mr D’Agostino said he had been left gripping his wrist to stem the bleeding in the fear he might ‘bleed out’.

The case against Mr Ottolenghi’s company was dropped and the flower arranger was paid damages by his employer, the florist

Contesting his claim for damages, Ms Farthing said ‘not in a million years’ would she have told him to carry the heavy vase up and down the stairs.

It was his own fault because he should have filled the vase with a watering can and not attempted to manhandle it up and down the steps to the basement sink.

But finding against her, the judge rejected Ms Farthing’s evidence, which he said was ‘chaotic and contradictory’.

‘Mr D’Agostino was instructed to carry the vase downstairs and empty it in the basement and expected to clean and refill it down there,’ he found.

‘This would have meant that Ms Farthing could use the upstairs sink in order to deal with the larger of the two vases.

‘The stairs were an obvious risk…and an accident waiting to happen.

‘It was an unsafe system of working and inherently risky.

‘I consider that the accident is a direct consequence of the breach of duty which I have identified.’

The judge also rejected Ms Farthing’s claim that she could not be sued directly because Mr D’Agostino was employed by her company, Farthing Flowers Ltd.

She claimed Mr D’Agostino only sued her personally after realising her company was uninsured and because she is a homeowner with assets to pay compensation.

Ruling that both the company and Ms Farthing personally are liable to pay damages, the judge said the work contract was between the florist and her employee.

A further hearing will take place at a later date to decide the amount in damages which Mr D’Agostino will get.

As well as the physical scars of his accident, Mr D’Agostino claims to have suffered psychological damage as a result of his fall.

His barrister, Gemma Witherington, said it is estimated that he could receive up to £100,000.

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Daily Mail

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