Youngster sues over scalding bath

By James MortlockA 10-YEAR-OLD girl who suffered horrific burns in a bath-time accident may have to wait for years to find out if she is entitled to damages.

By James Mortlock

A 10-YEAR-OLD girl who suffered horrific burns in a bath-time accident may have to wait for years to find out if she is entitled to damages.

Dawn Hooper was left with life-threatening injuries when she was scalded by boiling water while having a bath five years ago.

The youngster has made an amazing recovery and, thanks to dedicated doctors at several hospitals and staff at the Priory Special School in Bury St Edmunds, where she is a pupil, Dawn can now even enjoy her favourite sport - running.


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But her father Stephen, who has launched a High Court bid for compensation following the accident, said she would need several more operations - including painful skin grafts and the breaking of bones in her feet so they can be realigned - and could go on needing surgery throughout her life.

Dawn suffered burns to about a quarter of her body in the accident and while she was recovering she developed the killer hospital bug MRSA.

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Mr Hooper and his wife Tracey, from Bury St Edmunds, said the accident had happened after she decided to bathe Dawn and her two-year-old sister Tiffany on February 13, 2000, when they were living in the town's Ashwell Road.

The claimed a newly-installed heating tank had become increasingly hot and the water boiled because the thermostat had allegedly been defective and failed to turn itself off.

Dawn, through her father, is now suing Cotherm (UK), the company that manufactured the thermostat.

Cotherm has admitted the product was defective, but said it was suing immersion heater suppliers Heatrae Sadia Heating Ltd over the accident, claiming the thermostat should have been recalled.

Mr Hooper, a father-of-four, said the accident had changed his family forever. "It was horrible. You cannot imagine the pain Dawn was in and the effect it had on us all. She was scalded from her toes to her knees and all around where she was sat in the water," he added.

But Mr Hooper said Dawn was now able to enjoy an active life and plenty of sport. "She's a very cheerful little girl who was very poorly for a long time, but she has coped very well. She does a lot of sport and is very happy," he said.

However, he believed the compensation battle - which will consider liability as well as Dawn's future mobility, fertility, psychological state and general condition - could take years to conclude. "We may have to wait until she is 18 before we have a result," said Mr Hooper.

james.mortlock@eadt.co.uk

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