Dance student, 26, sues top school for up to £500,000 after suffering career-wrecking injuries trying to hoist her ‘significantly’ heavier training partner above her head
- Charlotte Vanweersch is suing Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds
- She claims she suffered injuries as she wasn’t taught how to lift heavier partners
- Doctors are assessing whether Miss Vanweersch, 26, has chronic pain syndrome
- If she does suffer from it, she could claim as much as £500,000 compensation
A dance student who suffered career-threatening injuries trying to hoist a ‘significantly’ heavier training partner above her head is suing her school for £500,000.
Charlotte Vanweersch, 26, says she sustained disabling neck and shoulder injuries while taking part in a ‘throwing and lifting’ routine at a top dance school in Leeds in November 2015.
The accident damaged her spine and left shoulder, causing lasting pain and restricted movement while impacting her ability to dance and do heavy housework, her lawyers claim.
She says she wasn’t properly taught how to safely lift a much heavier partner and her tutors should have paired her with a dancer ‘of a more comparable or adequate size.’
Miss Vanweersch is suing the University of Kent-validated Northern School of Contemporary Dance for up to £500,000 for injuries which restrict her ability to dance.
Charlotte Vanweersch, 26, is suing over an accident at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, which she said was caused by her lifting a much heavier partner
If Miss Vanweersch is found to have chronic pain syndrome, her claim could be worth £500,000
Her barrister explained how medics are currently assessing whether her accident has left her with ‘chronic regional pain syndrome’ – a condition which could take years to treat.
If she does have chronic pain syndrome, her claim could be worth as much as £500,000, Judge Damien Lochrane noted at a preliminary hearing.
But the Northern School is denying all blame, insisting that 26-year-old Miss Vanweersch chose her own dance partner that day and was ‘given appropriate instruction’ by course staff.
Their lawyers point out in court documents that Miss Vanweersch had sought out a contemporary dance degree, which inevitably involved a large amount of physical training.
On top of that, she was in the second year of her degree when she was hurt and had started professional dance training at the age of 15, they add.
Miss Vanweersch claims the November 2015 accident came after she was picked by her tutor to partner a fellow student in techniques which involved ‘throwing and lifting.’
Miss Vanweersch says she wasn’t properly taught how to safely lift a much heavier partner and her tutors should have paired her with a dancer ‘of a more comparable or adequate size’
‘She will contend that a lift technique was shown twice, but it was not explained at all in close detail, and the students were encouraged immediately to experience for themselves without such explanation,’ claimed her barrister James Candlin in court papers.
‘The significant size disparity between her and her selected dance partner had not been addressed in respect of any particular protective technique, or approach to be adopted by her to minimise risk of injury.’
Just before the end of the lesson, Ms Vanweersch was attempting a lift ‘for the purpose of throwing or raising her partner above head height’ when she felt an alarming cracking sensation in the back of her neck, she says.
Miss Vanweersch claims she subsequently received ‘minimal injury support’ and, by January 2016, she had to stop dancing in class, before eventually giving up her degree.
Her barrister claims tutors did not adequately ‘address the fact of size disparity between dance partners being taught lift techniques.’
The Northern School is denying all blame, insisting that 26-year-old Miss Vanweersch chose her own dance partner that day
The Northern School of Contemporary Dance are disputing the extent of Ms Vanweersch’s injuries, as well as denying liability.
‘It is to be expected that there is always a risk of injury associated with physical activity,’ says the school’s defence to the claim.
‘Dance is no exception. An appropriate risk assessment was conducted which recognised this risk.’
They say staff repeatedly advised her to delay returning to her course so her body could recover.
And they claim Ms Vanweersch also owes them unpaid tuition fees.
No date has been set for a court hearing.
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