Friday 20 May 2022 05:40 PM Bristol Uni to pay out £50,000 in landmark case as judge rules they ... trends now
The family of a student who committed suicide have been awarded £50,000 in damages after winning a landmark civil case against a university for contributing to her death.
A senior judge found Bristol University liable to 'multiple breaches' of its legal duties towards its former student Natasha Abrahart, 20, who took her own life in 2018.
The verdict followed a trial in March this year to decide whether the university had a direct role to play in Natasha's death.
Her body was found in her private flat in April 2018, on the day she was due to give a presentation to fellow students and staff in a 329-seat lecture theatre.
The second-year physics student had been diagnosed with chronic social anxiety disorder in February 2018.
The University of Bristol must pay out £50,000 in damages, after a judge ruled today that they contributed to Natasha Abrahart's suicide in 2018 by engaging in 'indirect disability discrimination' against the 20-year-old physics student. Pictured: Natasha Abrahart
She was one of 12 students at the University of Bristol believed to have taken their own lives since October 2016.
Natasha's parents, Robert, 65, and Margaret Abrahart, 60, filed court documents to challenge the university's role in Natasha's death.
The family's lawyers argued that the university breached the Equality Act 2010 when it failed to adjust its regime of oral assessments in light of Natasha's social anxiety disorder.
These breaches, the family's lawyers argued, caused a deterioration in Natasha's mental health leading to her death.
In a 46-page written judgment, Judge Alex Ralton found that the university had breached its duties to make reasonable adjustments to the way it assessed Natasha; engaged in indirect disability discrimination against Natasha; and treated Natasha unfavourably because of the consequences of her disability.
He found that these breaches led to her death, noting that 'it was accepted by the medical experts that the primary stressor and cause of Natasha's depressive illness was oral assessment.'
The judge also found that adjustments, such as removing the need for oral assessments altogether or, in relation to the conference on 30 April 2018, assessing Natasha in the absence of her peers or using a smaller venue, were reasonable and should have been put in place.
He observed that 'whilst a few ideas' regarding possible adjustments were 'floated' by the University 'none were implemented'.
After finding that Natasha's suffering was 'serious and, from what I have seen in the evidence, continuous' the Judge ordered the university to pay damages of £50,518.
This reflected the injury to Natasha's feelings, the deterioration in her mental health caused by the University, and funeral costs.
Speaking after the ruling, Natasha's father Robert Abrahart, a retired university lecturer, said: 'Today, 1481 days after Natasha took her own life on the day of an assessment she simply couldn't do, after years of protestations from the University that it did all it could to support her, after having battled our way through an inquest and a civil trial, we finally have the truth.
'The University of Bristol broke the law and exposed our daughter to months