Coominya abattoir operator Green Mountain, has escaped liability for a back injury to an 18-yr-old boning room worker after a Brisbane judge ruled the labourer’s evidence of how the injury occurred and the extent of his symptoms, was “extremely unreliable”.
The April 2009 back injury was claimed by Tyron Lewis to have been a result of loading 60 bags of frozen meat each weighing 12.5 kg – from the floor to above shoulder height and at the same time twisting through 270° – into a dicing machine “feed-in tray”.
But production records at the plant, only evidenced 15 bags having been processed that day. Likewise, Lewis’s claim of having to leave work 15 to 30 minutes after the incident for medical treatment, was directly contradicted by the plants “sick” records and those of local doctor Dr Paramjit Singh, which has Lewis consulting him at 4 pm, 2 hours after the end of his shift.
What’s more, although Singh recorded Tyron’s visit was for a back injury, it was written up as resulting from an entirely different event that had occurred a few days earlier.
Inconsistent accounts of precisely what had occurred were eg “lifting a box of meat from the ground onto a table”; and “picking up a box”, also counted against him in the eyes of judge David Reid DCJ. As a result, His Honour “had some significant disquiet about the plaintiff’s credit and his description of the incident.”
The judge was also of the view that the type of work and hours worked since leaving the meatworks, were inconsistent with the serious disc injury he claimed. His Honour ruled that any symptoms he currently has did not develop from the particular incident with which the lawsuit was concerned.
His exaggeration of the symptoms, “which may not have been conscious”, left his honour in the position “where I find his evidence extremely unreliable”. Lewis must pay the abattoir’s legal costs for the five-day trial.