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Written by Peter Carter

March 20, 2014

A former IT consultant turned real estate agent and would-be actor, delivered a less than convincing performance in a dramatic 3 day injury compensation appearance in Brisbane’s District Court in February.
Gavin Harrison – whose subsequent court appearance took on the roles of both attorney and client – claimed Woolloongabba’s Actors’ Workshop had been negligent by requiring his participation in a game of “slow motion tag” in a small space with 9 classmates.

The students were under the instruction of Emma Randall (Daybreakers, Undead,  and This Girl in the Desert) gaining improvisation skills, in the sixth week of a Cert IV in Film and Television Acting, at the Trinity Lane studio.

The objects of the game were several: to “renew the students ability to play”; to teach “chivalry” for other students; and to develop an ability to slow down one’s performance “in accordance with a cinematographer’s demands”.

Despite its name, the game had nothing to do with “tagging” opponents.

Gavin though, adopted a more literal interpretation to the exercise, preferring a portrayal of a “competitive” child in a playground. But by running and looking backwards, he ignored the instruction to “move as slowly as physically possible and avoid sudden motion” and exposed himself to a risk of injury from a source that was just not a feature of the exercise.

“No reasonable person could have thought that it was relevant to any part of the exercise that he or she avoid being tagged,” observed Judge Reid who landed the ultimate role in the melodrama. The smallish area in which the thespians were conducting the exercise – which in other circumstances may have constituted a hazard – was thus irrelevant.

Unflattering inferences were drawn from Harrison’s dealings with the ACCC, concerning litigation over the recall of two products distributed by his health supplement and dental businesses. Evidence of employment was “vague and unsatisfactory”, leaving the court little to work with in assessing damages in the context of him being “probably deliberately dishonest” with income loss pleas.

Ultimately, the court was unmoved by the creative rendition of how the accident occurred and what were its consequences. Gavin’s claim was dismissed and he was refused the $90,000 assessed by the court as being the proper measure of the loss, as compared to the multiples of that sum that were claimed.

An appeal has been lodged.

Harrison v The Actors Workshop Australia Pty Ltd [2014] QDC 040 Reid DCJ 05/03/2014

Categories: Personal Injury , Litigation & Law Practice

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