The partner and two children of a cyclist who drowned in Bristol's Floating Harbour are suing the city council for compensation of up to £1.5 million.
The family of a cyclist who drowned when he fell into the Floating Harbour in Bristol are suing the city’s council for up to £1.5 million in compensation.
Sean Philips, aged 40, died in March 2013 after reportedly losing control of his bike as he rode to work at the Aztec West business park, reports the Bristol Post.
There was speculation that the wheels of his bike may have become stuck in rail tracks that run along the harbourside.
Two people who saw him fall jumped into the water but were unable to save him.
Mr Philips, who had a prosthetic leg, had been heading towards the Prince Street Bridge when he fell into the water close to the MV Balmoral and the M Shed museum.
He left behind two children and his partner, Hayley Liddle, is suing the council, saying that there should have been a barrier on the harbour wall.
It is also alleged that warning signs were in the wrong location, were too small and could be easily overlooked, and that the council failed to conduct a risk assessment regarding the possibility of people falling in the water.
At a pre-trial hearing on Monday at the High Court in London, Judge Veronique Buehrlen QC revealed that damages were being sought of between £1.1 million and £1.5 million.
Describing the case as “a serious claim arising out of a serious tragedy,” the judge ruled that the family would be able to rely on expert testimony from an accident reconstruction engineer, saying it would “assist the court.”
The council had argued that the witness had gone beyond her remit by making remarks about waterside safety features elsewhere, and that she was unqualified to give evidence on issues such as risk assessment or whether the signage was adequate.
But the judge said the expert's testimony would "assist the court" and opened the way for it to form part of the family's case.
The case is unlikely to go to full trial until later this year, with the council now needing time to gather its own expert evidence.
In 2014, an inquest into Mr Philips’ death heard that concerns over train and crane tracks at the harbourside had been raised in a risk assessment carried out in 2003.
An independent risk assessment, conducted in 2012, recommended that safety barriers be installed, but the council was said to have rejected the idea.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.