Former employee who tried to sue company for £2.2 million exposed by family holiday picture
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A chef who claimed he was barely able to walk after an accident at work had his £2.2 million compensation claim thrown out of court after a photo of him kayaking with his family was posted on Facebook.
Ferenc Sumegi strained his back while lifting a tray in his job as a chef at Heathrow Airport.
Sumegi, 49, claimed the injury left him in ‘unbearable’ ongoing pain, that required him to use a walking stick or crutches to get about and that he was forced to spend up to 18 hours a day lying down.
He had attempted to sue his employer Gate Gourmet UK Ltd for £2.2m in compensation for his injuries and for the loss of his culinary career.
Asking for £2.2m in compensation, Sumegi said: “I was unable to work as a chef as I could not do any lifting and could make no sudden movements.
“If I have to stand for too long then the pain in my back would be unbearable. There is no way I could go back to work as a chef.”
Lawyers for Gate Gourmet had accepted the injury was genuine, but insisted that any symptoms caused by the accident would have gone within 18 months.
However, the case was thrown out of court and he was whacked with a £75,000 bill for court costs after evidence of him kayaking, carrying his kids on his shoulder and throwing a stick for his dog came to light.
Surveillance footage caught Sumegi ‘vigorously throwing a stick for his dog’, ‘kneeling in the sand burying his daughter at the beach’, and standing ‘in a river with a daughter on each shoulder and his arms in the air’.
He was also snapped fishing and going kayaking and paddle boarding.
In response, Sumegi said his partner was ‘only posting positive photos’ on Facebook and insisted that he had good and bad days.
“She doesn’t put pictures of me with a stick or which show my disabilities,” he said in evidence.
At Oxford County Court last March, Judge Melissa Clarke said Sumegi's claim was ‘fundamentally dishonest’.
He attempted to challenge the ruling at the High Court last week, where he insisted he was ‘not a liar’.
But Mrs Justice Yip denied him permission to appeal, describing the original ruling as a ‘model of fairness’.
“The judge reached findings which were plainly open to her and seem inevitable on the evidence that was before the court,” she concluded.