Ex-soldier, 41, who claims cold injuries he suffered on overnight shift mean he now has to constantly run central heating is suing the MoD for £1million
- Ex-British soldier Macmillan Awumee, 41, is suing the MoD for over £1million
- Mr Arumee says he has been deeply affected after suffering cold-related injuries
- Ghanaian-born Mr Arumee said he was especially vulnerable as a ‘black African’
- He now has to crank up central heating regularly, with chronic pain and tingling
A former soldier is suing the MoD for over £1m claiming he has to constantly crank up his central heating due to cold injuries he suffered on duty.
Macmillan Awumee travelled from his homeland Ghana to join the British Army in 2011, following his ‘childhood dream’ and the family tradition to become a soldier, London’s High Court heard.
He served in the Royal Corps of Logistics and expected to make the army his long-term career but was medically discharged eight years later after having suffered non-freezing cold injuries while on winter duty in 2017.
His cold injuries caused chronic pain, tingling and numbness to his extremities, as well as triggering depression.
He also says his condition has left him feeling the cold more than other people and has left him exposed to high energy bills because he now has to turn up his central heating ‘both in winter and summer’.
Mr Awumee, 41, who lives in Southampton, is now suing the MoD for over £1 million in damages, claiming far more should have been done to protect him from the cold on duty.
Macmillan Awumee, 41 travelled from his homeland Ghana to join the British Army in 2011, following his ‘childhood dream’ and the family tradition to become a soldier, London’s High Court heard
Mr Awumee, 41, who lives in Southampton, is now suing the MoD for over £1 million in damages following a cold-related injury in 2017, claiming far more should have been done to protect him from the cold while on duty
Research published in 2009 by the National Library for Medicine supports the claim that black men of African ethnicity are more like to suffer cold-related injuries.
The study explored the impact of cold injuries on different ethnic origins of male British Army soldiers. It found those of an ‘African-American’ background were more severely affected by cold injury.
Its conclusion read: ‘Young male African Americans in the British Army are at 30 times greater chance of developing peripheral cold injury and are more severely affected than their Caucasian counterparts following similar climatic exposure, using similar clothing and equipment.’
The research was brought up in the lawsuit of another Nigerian-born British army officer, who took legal action over a cold-related injury.
Benard Iygeudu, 40, says he was forced to quit the Army after training exercise
Mr Iyegudu was more vulnerable than others to developing a cold-related injury, said his barrister, Christopher Barnes.
‘As a man of black African ethnicity, he would have been at a greater risk of developing a non-freezing cold injury than others serving in the Army,’ he explained.
The court heard that he blames his depleted physical state on an overnight shift carried out in February 2017, during which he was exposed to ‘prolonged wet and cold conditions’ while loading military stores onto a ship.
‘As a result, he developed non-freezing cold injuries to his hands and feet,’ explained his barrister Paul Kilcoyne in court documents.
Mr Kilcoyne said he was especially vulnerable since he is a ‘black African with an ethnicity known to be more prone to the development of non-freezing cold injuries if exposed to cold, damp or freezing conditions’.
The ex-soldier’s symptoms of pain and numbness are now mainly confined to the winter, but his barrister explained: ‘he has a requirement for extra warm clothing and a requirement for increased domestic heating both in winter and in summer’.
His symptoms were made worse by a back injury which occurred while he was laying and removing tracks for an infantry beach training exercise, and he is now also dogged by ‘ongoing back pain’.
His fragile state left him depressed and anxious, which was made worse by knowing that his army career was ended.
The ex-soldier’s lawyers claim his superiors failed to provide sufficient cold weather kit – particularly in the form of gloves and warm boots – but the MoD is denying fault.
MoD barrister, Andrew Ward, pointed out that Mr Awumee would have received training on dealing with cold weather conditions, and was issued with army kit designed to withstand extreme weather.
The temperature on the night his hands and feet were numbed was above freezing and evidence suggested that conditions were not wet, said Mr Ward.
Mr Awumee had in fact lost his army career due to an ankle injury accidentally sustained in 2015, which left him unable to ‘run, jump hop or squat,’ he claimed.
The case reached court for a brief pre-trial hearing and will now return for trial at a later date.
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