A BURNS survivor who says a terrible house fire cost her a singing career has launched a compensation claim for more than £1 million against her friend.
Erin McNeill (23) was rescued unconscious from the building by firefighters but suffered between 30 and 40 per cent burns to her body.
She spent 70 days in intensive care and 94 in the burns unit during her five and a half month stay in hospital.
Her lawyers are now pursuing a damages claim against Kerryann Easton, from Tullibody, whose home went on fire.
They say Kerryann, who was also injured in the fire, failed to keep a good lookout while cooking food which caused the blaze – something she denies.
Erin, from Menstrie, suffered damage to her upper and lower body, vocal cords and lungs from smoke inhalation at the fire in Dawson Avenue, Alloa, on 15 February in 2009.
She was badly scarred and has undergone plastic surgery. She has since become well-known for her charitable work and began to enter beauty pageants while coming to terms with her scars.
Court papers to Court of Session in Edinburgh say Erin’s voice is hoarse and she loses it if she tries to speak at a raised level for any length of time in a noisy place such as a busy pub or club.
They add, “She is no longer able to sing which she intended doing professionally. She has lost a congenial career.” Her lawyers say Erin had successfully auditioned with an entertainments agency the previous month and was about to sign a contract with them when the fire happened.
Earlier on the night of the fire, she had used newly-bought sound equipment to perform at Alva Golf Club.
Erin, a former member of the Scottish National Youth Choir, left school at 17 and worked as a legal secretary and hairdresser and attended a performing arts school. She claims she is restricted to office-based employment as an alternative form of work, but is a poor candidate because her injuries impact on her ability to sit for prolonged periods as well as to type.
Kerryann’s lawyers say Erin is fit for work and that she attends the gym daily and intends to compete in bodybuilding competitions.
The hearing before Lord Bannatyne continues.