A “technologically dumb” store clerk injured in a company-sponsored game of tunnel ball in August 2008, has been awarded $270,000 personal injury compensation following a two-day trial in Brisbane.
Leanne Bagiante – who “loved working” for Bunnings, whom she described as a “wonderful company” – suffered excruciating pain for several days before the correct fracture treatment identified and implemented. Even then, it took more than 3 years, following arthroscopy and MRI, for the true nature of the serious ankle injury to be diagnosed by her persistent orthopedist, Dr Greg Sterling.
To facilitate a return to work, the “benevolent and generous” building products supplier, “particularly to those who had been injured”, actioned her transfer from the Lifestyle Department, to the lighter duties of the Garden Décor.
Crucial to the assessment were the competing opinions of Dr Greg Gillett for the plaintiff and Dr John Fraser for WorkCover.
Gillett’s opinion, according as it did with that of the treating surgeon that any remedial surgery would only be a “temporising measure”, was preferred to that of Fraser, who had failed to address the plaintiff’s likely work capacity following a future further arthroscopy.
Largely following Gillett’s analysis, the court held that the highly regarded employee – described as an “exceptional worker” – would be able to continue to work for perhaps 10 more years, but then her “prospects of continuing long term, even part-time, is remote”.
Loss of income was assessed for the first 10 years at an income equivalent for a predominantly sedentary role working for only 3 out of 5 days work per week. Thereafter, because also of her “genuine inability to comprehend computer systems”, she was unlikely to be able to perform any work.
With discounting for contingencies of 50% for the first period and 30% for the second period, this translated to future loss of income for the 47-year-old of $174,000 until expected retirement. Total assessment, nearly $300,000.