The tranquil Clarence River was the setting of an alcohol-fuelled rampage that felled 32-year-old Luke Warren in the late hours of an August Friday night in 2009.
The beating was captured by the Maclean Services Club CCTV where he and Andrew & Brendan Hall had been socialising. Luke had never met his two assailants or even spoken to them that night. The punches to the back of the head came without any warning before a steel bar stool was smashed over his skull.
After surgeries, the brain injury needed ongoing neurological treatment for memory loss, headaches, poor concentration and diminished attention span. He has also required treatment from psychiatrists for hallucinations, paranoia, altered personality, fatigue, anxiety. Naturally enough this also brought on major frustration and anger at his inability to function normally.
A lawsuit was filed against all concerned but Luke decided not to pursue the club. The only defendants when the case came before the NSW Supreme Court was the Hall brothers who were represented by a solicitor.
His case consisted only of the police report, his statement to the police, admissions made by the two defendants and medical reports. Those reports described post-traumatic stress syndrome; confusion between letters and numbers; predisposition to distraction when reading or having conversations and his forgetfulness which is another source of “overwhelming” frustration.
Justice John Schmidt could plainly see the “wide-ranging effects of the serious brain injury which he will have to contend with for the rest of his life”.
Domestically, he relies heavily on his mother and partner for assistance being unable even to drive or perform most duties. Physical exertion causes problems and hence the difficulty in completing tasks.
Judge Schmidt assessed general damages at $300k; future care at $334k; loss of income past and future at $950k – by reference to a wage of $877 weekly – making a total award of $1.7 million.
“I am satisfied that this sum is conservative for the extreme pain and suffering a considerable loss of amenity which you have suffered and will continue to suffer for many years ahead.”
Tragically, the defendants don’t have any resources to pay any part of the sum awarded.
Warren v Maclean-Lower Clarence Services Club Ltd  NSWSC 1374 Schmidt J 09/10/2014 – view decision