Friday, January 27, 2012

Mrs Bessie Bocquet Burnt in a Bath - Harrogate - 28 September 1903 – Hearing at Leeds Assizes

Mrs Bessie Bocquet, a widow carrying on a wine and spirit business, at 1, Regent Street, London, was on August 7 awarded £260 damages at the Leeds Assizes for personal injuries sustained in an electric bath. The defendants were the Harrogate Corporation, owners of the bath, and the Medical Electric Thermic Generator Company, Limited.

The inventor of the bath, Mr Arthur Edwin Greville, was a third party to the action. Mr Atkinson, K.C., for the plaintiff, said she had suffered from lumbago in 1899, and had undergone treatment on the Grevilie system, but her experience had been unsatisfactory. Suffering from sciatica during the summer of 1902, she followed the advice of her physician to place herself under the care of Dr Black of Harrogate and try the baths there.

On July 20 she went to the baths, but seeing the words "The Grevilie Bath" over the door, she became alarmed, and only consented to take a bath on being assured by the attendant nurse "that it had every modern improvement." While in the bath she was burnt, and during the night a large blister on her left side burst. The following day her injuries were treated by the nurse, who begged her not to inform Dr Black, but as they got worse he was called in, and two other doctors examined her also.

During the whole of this time she suffered greatly, and was unable to attend to 'her business in London. Mr Justice Grantham examined the bath, which was shown in Court, and said it looked to him like a "modified electrocution instrument." Mr, Grevilie alleged that it was a physical impossibility for the burns to have been caused by the use of the bath, but on cross-examination he admitted writing to Mrs Bocquet, asking her to relinquish further proceedings. In a similar action brought his firm by another party, the jury had awarded a farthing damages, but his partner had paid the plaintiff in that case £236 towards the costs.

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