Maintenance firm at centre of £200k lawsuit

A woman seriously injured by a gas explosion at a hotel she worked in is suing her former employers and a catering equipment maintenance firm for £200,000.

Lawyers for 30-year-old Danielle Ormond said she is still in pain and requires counselling after a gas blast in the kitchen of the Drumtochty Arms Hotel in Scotland.

The incident happened after Ms Ormond went to change a beer barrel in the basement of the hotel.

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According to The Scotsman, Aberdeenshire-based Instant Catering Maintenance (ICM) was installing a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank at the back of the hotel, and one of its staff members, Neil Coffield, was working in the kitchen on equipment to run off LPG.

The Scotsman said that in court papers lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, lawyers for the hotel’s owners, Drumtochty Castle Ltd stated: “About 50 seconds before the explosion, [Mr Coffield] said to [Ms Ormond] about smelling gas that he had ‘been doing this job so long that I can’t smell it anymore’.”

The hotel’s lawyers claimed that Coffield caused a significant leak of gas, which mixed with air and exploded, “probably as a result of ignition by an electrical spark.”

Both the hotel’s owners and Instant Catering Maintenance deny responsibility for the explosion.

The newspaper reported that lawyers for Instant Catering admitted Mr Coffield asked Ms Ormond if she could smell gas, and that she said she could. But they claim the hotel “did not make suitable arrangements for the ventilation of the kitchen”.

They claim the result was that “any gas leaking into the kitchen would accumulate at a low level and be at risk of ignition”.
Mr Coffield and another man were hurt in the explosion.

ICM specialises in the maintenance and sales of all major brands of catering equipment, and also sells a range of refrigeration equipment.

A Crown Office investigation into the incident, which took place in 2009, remains ongoing.

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