Written by Peter CarterSeptember 29, 2016
An alleged gang associate – giving evidence via video link from Germany after the cancellation of his visa prevented his return to Australia – has today been awarded substantial damages for a brain injury sustained in a motorcycle accident in East Brisbane in May 2011.
CTP insurer Allianz admitted liability for its insured at-fault driver whose careless U-turn was responsible for the rider crashing into a parked car on Wynnum Road but contended his injury ask was a sham.
Allianz asserted Mehrang Mashaghati – convicted of perjury, numerous other offences & breaches of domestic violence orders; and an associate of jailed motorcycle gang members – was an inveterate liar whose testimony as his medical symptoms should be dismissed out of hand.
It contended that any conditions he currently suffered had no relationship whatsoever with the 2011 accident.
Mehrang – a 41-yr-old Iranian raised in Germany before arriving in Australia in 2007 – had explanations, many of them plausible, for all his transgressions.
He conceded he was a friend to convicted Brisbane gang members Nuno and Bruno Da Silva describing them both as “good guys”.
His “business association” with Nigel Munt – a convicted drug trafficker – arose he explained from when Munt’s law firm acted as his solicitor.
Judge Dean Morzone in Brisbane’s District Court considered that notwithstanding Mehrang’s disturbing history, there was insufficient “basal evidence” to draw inferences he had a “predeliction to lie or was dishonest in his case”.
“It is too great a leap and too speculative,” ruled the judge “to tar the plaintiff with guilt by association.”
Neither did the mere fact that his evidence was by video link permit “any less weight be given to his evidence” or “any adverse inference being drawn against him”.
In Judge Morzone’s view, Mehrang’s demeanour was consistent with his alleged head injury and he appeared in his two day on screen grilling by Allianz’s lawyers to be otherwise “unrehearsed, spontaneous and candid”.
That aside, his inaccurate reporting of symptoms and history to medical practitioners engaged to assess the extent of symptoms for the benefit of the court meant his evidence had to be given less weight where it could not be independently verified by other testimony or documents.
Mehrang’s lawsuit – filed in 2014 – sought compensation for injuries to his back, teeth, pelvis as well as organic brain and psychiatric injuries.
Evidence was heard from orthopaedists Malcolm Wallace, Ian Dickinson and Thomas Kossman plus neurologists Don Todman and John Cameron.
All in all the court accorded – in relation to his lumbar spine injuries – an ISV of just 1 and for his left ankle injury, an ISV of 5.
With the support of cosmetic dentist Greg Sclavos an ISV of 8 was allocated to his dental injuries received immediately on impact.
Mehrang was diagnosed with significant postaccident symptoms of headaches, forgetfulness dizziness and vertigo.
The extent to which these were related to his head strike in the impact was the subject of testimony from psychiatrists Prof Harvey Whiteford and Dr Joe Matthew as well as psychologist Debbie Anderson, the court preferring the opinions of the latter two over that of Prof Whiteford.
An ISV of 15 was allowed for the brain injury and 13 for his psychiatric injuries.
Given the multiple medical conditions an uplift of 30% was allowed on the dominant injury ISV to equate to a resultant figure of 20.
All those tortuous calculations brought the court to a meagre general damages total of just $25k – for what by any measure – is a very significant permanent impairment.
Past economic loss was allowed from the time he returned to Germany in September 2013, totalling $32k and future loss of earning capacity at $75k – as compared to his ask of nearly $300k based on his estimated $500 net deficit per week for his future working life.
Total damages that Allianz must pay were allowed at $156k.
Mashaghati v Anderson & Allianz  QDC 245 Morzone QC DCJ 29 September 2016