U.K.s Vue Cinema Chain Fined $1 Million For Death of Film-Goer in 2018

U.K.s Vue Cinema Chain Fined $1 Million For Death of Film-Goer in 2018

A court in Birmingham, U.K., has fined cinema giant Vue Entertainment Ltd £750,000 ($1 million) in the verdict on a 2018 incident where a man was crushed to death under a chair.

In March 2018, 24-year-old Ateeq Rafiq died after his head and neck got crushed under a seat while searching for his keys at Birmingham’s Star City cinema, a Vue property. His wife Ayesha Sardar tried to pull the chair’s motorized footrest off Rafiq’s neck, but did not succeed. He was revived by CPR at the scene but died of brain injuries a week later, on March 16.

At an inquest held in 2019 it was revealed that he force which came down on Rafiq’s head was 3/4th of a ton. The seat was missing a bar which would have allowed Rafiq to be released manually.

In April 2021, Vue Cinemas admitted to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, for “failing to ensure that persons not in their employment are not exposed to risk to their health or safety” and for “failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.”

Sentencing was deferred to July 20, when the Birmingham Crown Court announced the fine.

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“It is obviously positive mitigation on behalf of this company that they have no previous convictions or matters coming before the court,” Judge Heidi Kubik QC said. “It is conceded that clearly a number of members of the public were exposed to the same risk of harm. The complete lack of a risk assessment was a significant cause of the actual harm that resulted.”

The death was “an accident that never should have happened,” the judge said.

Variety has reached out to the Vue group for comment.

Vue has 91 cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland, with over 870 screens. It is is part of the largest cinema group in Europe, Vue International.

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