Judges awards $62k to injured worker for trolley incident
A COLLISION involving a stockroom trolley loaded with about 240kg of dishwashing powder cartons has left a Sunshine Coast woman unable to mow the lawn, wash the dog or frequent the beach.
But a District Court judge has found Suzanne Margaret Anderson's employer was negligent or, alternatively, breached the implied term of her employment contract in failing to take reasonable care for her safety.
Judge Paul Smith awarded Ms Anderson $62,681 - after deducting $22,054 for 25% contributory negligence and a $3481 WorkCover refund - for damages, past and future losses and out-of-pocket expenses.
He said it was dangerous for a female worker to pull a trolley with that much weight. She had been forced to because of storeroom clutter and she was under pressure to have the store ready for opening.
Judge Smith said the injury risk was foreseeable.
Ms Anderson, now 32, was working for employer John Hyslop - who owns IGA stores at Yarraman, Gatton and Kingaroy - when the injury occurred on May 8, 2008.
The mother of two told the court, during a trial, she was helping set up the Kingaroy grocery department when she tried to manoeuvre the laden trolley through a stock-filled corridor.
She said while she was pulling it, colleague Donna Mitchell called out for help from the coldroom.
Ms Anderson tried to stop the trolley but the trolley kept rolling and slammed into her right heel, which was treated with frozen peas.
She said her boss did not appear interested but she later told her husband, the store manager, and he made an incident report.
Ms Anderson kept working through the pain but when she moved to the Noosa and then Caloundra stores in October of that year, she finally sought medical help which resulted in regular physiotherapy and a moon boot she must wear.
Lawyers for her employer suggested she had "dreamed up" the injury, deliberately involving Donna Mitchell, because she was now dead and could not testify.
Judge Smith said he heard evidence from a number of people but preferred Ms Anderson's "convincing" testimony over Mr Hyslop whom he found "vague and inconsistent".
He said he accepted she kept working because she was a "stoic individual" who believed the injury would improve.
Doctors testified Ms Anderson had a crush injury to her heel which had caused chronic tendinitis within her tendo achilles but Judge Smith said the link could not be proved.