Written by Peter CarterOctober 29, 2012
An Acacia Ridge manufacturer who argued its employee’s shop floor fall was fictional, has defeated a $160k damages claim for the hip injury said to have happened as a result.
Anthony Beardmore, a 57-year-old UK born mechanical technician swore he had slipped and fell on the greasy workshop floor of forklift manufacturer, Crown Equipment, in December 2008. The court agreed that Crown’s failure to delineate walkways for workers to traverse the workshop floor – “often littered with machinery and spillages of materials diesel, oil or grease” – had negligently exposed him to the risk of slipping on slippery lubricants.
And “with some reluctance” it also ruled – against the employer’s vigorous contention to the contrary – that the unwitnessed fall had actually occurred. But that’s as good as this case was ever going to get for plaintiff Beardmore.
Crown reserved its most strident objections for the plaintiff’s assertion that the workplace tumble produced a serious right hip injury, arguing that none of the symptoms complained of were new and that he had dishonestly concealed prior injuries from examining specialists.
When consulting orthopaedic specialist Greg Gillett – on whose report the plaintiff relied to contend the fall had accelerated the need for hip replacement surgery by 2.5 years – no mention was made of a prior 15-year history of right hip symptoms or a hip-wounding motorbike accident in his younger life.
It was plain to the court that “the [symptom-free] history given to Gillett by the plaintiff both in respect of his pre-accident medical history and the development of symptoms and treatment he received post-accident”, were false.
More likely though his honour, was a different version Beardmore had related to Greenslopes hip & knee surgeon Philip Dalton – just prior to hip replacement surgery in 2010 – when he volunteered his long-standing problem in the right hip and more generally, arthritis in other joints. Armed with this additional information, Dalton’s view was that the hip surgery was necessitated by chronic osteoarthritis, rather than the factory floor tumble.
At the urging of WorkCover and Crown, the court concurred with this opinion: “The nature of progressive osteoarthritic conditions is that symptoms are likely to come and go. In my view, it is likely that over the period of some months ….that his symptomology had returned as a result of the degenerative condition, and not as result of the fall”.
His claim having been felled so hard, the plaintiff was also ordered to pay Crown’s legal costs for the two-day trial.