Actor blinded by backfiring prop sues Donmar for £250kDate: 24 July 2012
Actor David Birrell has filed a £250,000 damages claim against the Donmar Warehouse after he was blinded onstage by a misfiring prop two years ago.
While playing Colonel Ricci in a 2010 performance of Stephen Sondheim's Passion at the Donmar, a replica gun malfunctioned in a duel scene causing a blank cartridge to shoot backwards into his right eye.
Birrell is suing Donmar Warehouse Projects Ltd as he claims the resultant cosmetic disability has adversely affected his career as well as his personal life. Birrell is permanently blind in his right eye and wears a prosthetic shell to cover the wound. Donmar Warehouse Projects has admitted liability for the injury, which guarantees that Birrell will receive a payout, but denies that it acted negligently.
It is seeking a contribution from prop company History in the Making Ltd, which supplied gun props to the company at the time. History in the Making said that it is yet to be proved whether the prop in question, which was promptly removed as evidence, was in fact one of their guns. They also claim that the faulty element was the ammunition rather than the gun, and that all their props were cleaned and serviced appropriately before being given to the company.
In the court hearing, Birrell's lawyer described how due to the injury he has 'lost the facility of binocular vision, has difficulty judging distances and with hand-eye coordination, tends to collide with objects on his right hand side' and that his 'previous interests of photography, cycling fencing running swimming and squash were curtailed,' reported The Daily Mail.