Army tank driver who claims he suffers hearing loss from when he went to war in Afghanistan without ear defenders after they were posted to the wrong address is suing MoD for £160,000
- Tank driver Simon Rigler, 31, saw action in Afghanistan without his ear defenders
- He says defenders were delivered to his last posting in the UK – not Afghanistan
- This meant he was ‘regularly exposed’ to noise of rockets, grenades and guns
- His lawyers pin the blame on the MoD and are claiming £167,000 compensation
- The MoD did not comment and has not indicated whether it disputes the claim
An army tank driver who claims his hearing was ruined when his ear defenders were sent to the wrong address while he went to war in Afghanistan is suing the MoD for £160,000.
Simon Rigler, 31, endured the noise of rockets, grenades and machine guns while ‘regularly exposed to enemy fire’ during a frontline tour in 2013 under Operation Herrick 18.
Although he says he had ‘perfect hearing’ when he joined up, he says the ear trauma he suffered in Afghanistan has left him unable to properly hear high frequency noise and speech.
According to papers filed at the High Court, his lawyers pin the blame on the MoD after he was sent into action without his ear defenders. They are claiming £167,000 compensation.
Instead of being delivered to war-torn Afghanistan when he went into combat, the defenders were sent to his last posting in the UK – where he had previously undergone a dog handling course.
Former soldier Simon Rigler, who is suing the MoD over hearing loss, after he was sent to Afghanistan without ear defenders
Although he says he had ‘perfect hearing’ when he joined up, he says the ear trauma he suffered in Afghanistan has left him unable to properly hear high frequency noise and speech
‘He never received them for the whole of his tour,’ says Mr Rigler’s barrister, Robert O’Leary, in claim papers.
‘He was therefore consistently exposed to loud noise during engagement with the enemy without appropriate hearing protection.’
Mr Rigler – who drove Challenger 2 tanks – had initially joined the army as a teenager but left, only to enlist again in 2010, joining the Royal Tank Regiment after basic training.
He says he first noticed a problem with his ears while in Afghanistan in 2013 and then failed a hearing test on his return to the UK the following year.
His lawyers say that, while in Afghanistan, he was regularly exposed to enemy fire from AK47 assault rifles and heavy machine guns, as well as the noise of RPGs.
He had told his sergeant that his PIHP ear defenders had been sent to his old posting and was told the message would be passed on, but they never turned up.
He was also flown from Camp Bastion to Lashkargah in an RAF Chinook helicopter without any hearing protection, his lawyers say.
As well as his combat stint in Afghanistan, Mr Rigler also claims of exposure to excessive noise while in training in the UK and Canada.
In training, he had spent up to four hours a day learning to drive a Challenger 2 tank, his barrister Mr O’Leary says.
‘Whilst driving he wore a personal role radio and this prevented him wearing his ear defenders, he was therefore exposed to very loud noise from the tanks,’ he says.
Mr Rigler’s hearing loss was diagnosed when he returned from Afghanistan. He suffers severe tinnitus and ‘high frequency sensorineural hearing loss,’ say his doctors.
Mr Rigler – who drove Challenger 2 tanks (pictured is a stock) – endured the noise of rockets, grenades and machine guns while ‘regularly exposed to enemy fire’
The condition – most common in older people and those exposed to loud noise – means sufferers struggle with hearing high-pitch sound, sometimes including women’s and children’s voices, while all speech can sound muffled.
Mr Rigler’s current condition means that he is now technically disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and he will potentially need hearing aids.
He left the army in May 2015 and has since worked in a senior role at a bus company.
Claiming £167,000 compensation, his lawyers say the MoD negligently exposed Mr Rigler to excessive noise, having failed to provide adequate hearing protection, particularly during his combat tour in Afghanistan.
His claim, which has not yet gone before a judge, is among more than 3,000 brought by ex-servicemen who are suing for hearing loss allegedly suffered during training or active duty.
Back in 2019, ex-Royal Marine Alistair Inglis was awarded £545,000 damages for hearing problems which he blamed on his military service.
A defence to Mr Rigler’s claim was not available from the court and the Ministry of Defence did not respond to requests for comment.
Source: Read Full Article