Bogus injury claim against council ‘shot to pieces’ by social media
A cyclist, who attempted to sue Cheshire East Council for up to £140,000 by lying about an accident has had his case thrown out by a judge – after…
A cyclist, who attempted to sue Cheshire East Council for up to £140,000 by lying about an accident has had his case thrown out by a judge – after his extensive keep fit exploits emerged on social media.
Gary Lucking, 44, claimed he had to give up cycling and sell his bike after hitting an exposed manhole in Pochin Way, Middlewich. However, his own social media posts showed he had subsequently taken part in a charity ride to Blackpool, completed circuit training in the gym, was lifting heavy weights, had been rowing and had competed in a ‘Tough Mudder’ race – described as having the ‘best obstacle-packed course on the planet’.
He claimed he suffered a loss of strength in his elbow, with continuing pain but his attempt to sue the council for injuries and financial loss was thrown out by the judge at the court hearing (on 5 November). His initial six-figure sum was challenged at an earlier hearing by lawyers acting for the council. It was reduced to a maximum of just £20,000 for legal reasons.
Lucking, of Thornfields, Crewe, was said to have suffered a serious fracture after falling from his bike at 6.45am on 20 January, 2014, but claimed he had hit an exposed manhole when, in fact, he had fallen off when mounting a kerb. In addition to the social media evidence, two work colleagues, who went to his aid, gave evidence contradicting his claim.
Dismissing the claim at Crewe County Court, Deputy District Judge Peter Causton described Lucking’s evidence as ‘unreliable, implausible and inconsistent’, saying his credibility had been ‘shot to pieces’ by the social media evidence.
He made findings of fundamental dishonesty and ordered Lucking to pay the council’s costs, which are yet to be determined. Cheshire East were represented by national law firm Weightmans LLP.
Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for environment, said:
"This was a blatant attempt to defraud the council and the borough’s taxpayers with a bogus claim for an accident that was in no way connected with the authority or any defect in the road.
"I agree with our legal representatives, Weightmans LLP, who stated the claim was fraudulent to the core. This case was an example of how local authorities faced significant fraud challenges.
"I would like to pay tribute to the two members of the public whose honesty and evidence in court enabled the council to challenge this cynical claim.
"We, like all local authorities, are required to protect public funds and this sends out the message that we will challenge claims that we feel are fraudulent."