Rita Thomas lost a court battle with a council after her car window was smashed by a grass cutter
Rita Thomas, 89, had a shattered rear windscreen after a stone flicked up and hit her VW Up while a gardener was mowing the lawn outside her home.
Employee Jeffrey Rawlins knocked on the widow’s door to apologise and told her to contact Bristol City Council’s insurance team to recoup the cost.
But instead of covering the cost of the repairs, the council – which must save £10 million in the next three years – decided to fight off the OAP’s claim.
The authority instructed a barrister to prepare a 170-page dossier and waged a ten-month battle with Mrs Thomas saying they were not liable.
After a two-hour hearing, Deputy District Judge Judith Ellery dismissed the claim but admitted: “It makes no sense whatsoever for the claimant to be landed with a bill.”
Mother-of-four Mrs Thomas, a former housewife and charity shop volunteer of Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, described the council’s decision not to cough up as “ridiculous”.
The 89-year-old had a shattered rear windscreen after a stone flicked up and hit her car
She said: “The whole thing is absolutely crazy. I know accidents happen, but the council employee admitted responsibility.
I have been left out of pocket and, more importantly, so have the taxpayers of Bristol
“The council should be responsible for putting right damage to property by its employees.
“I have been left out of pocket and, more importantly, so have the taxpayers of Bristol, by several thousand pounds, by the decision to defend a claim of £226 for a replacement windscreen.
“The man came to my door himself and said, ‘I’ve broken your window’.
“Three months after it happened I got a letter saying they were not responsible because the man was trained and did exactly what he should.
Employee Jeffrey Rawlins apologised and told her to contact Bristol City Council’s insurance team
“They sent me a 170-page ring binder through the post via recorded delivery. It was chock full with information and must have cost them £15 or £20 to send that alone.
“I think the council try to frighten you so you back off and don’t bother. It is ridiculous. They spent thousands of pounds on this.
“I feel annoyed. I understand why they have refused the claim but the fact is it was an accident and if you break something you pay for it.”
After the incident last August, her daughter, typist Sharon Parsons, 60, and son-in-law Richard Parsons, 63, a property management consultant, contacted the council.
When they did not hear back they had the windscreen repaired at a cost of £226.80 and emailed the authority again to let them know – but they refused to pay out.
The family filed a county court claim in a bid to recoup the money before spending a “great deal” of time preparing for the case, which cost £60 to bring to trial.
The hearing, at Bristol Civil Justice…