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Mandatory participation results in damages paid

Bagiante v Bunnings Group Limited. [2012]  QSC
31 May 2012

Background

Employers should take care when arranging team events and participation in these activities should be on a voluntary basis.
The worker was injured while participating in company sponsored games.   Participation in these games was mandatory and the worker sustained an ankle injury. The worker claimed damages for personal injuries because the injuries occurred during the course of their employment.  A Judge can still award a high amount for future economic loss despite the fact that the worker continued to work the same job with the same employer. The damages were awarded on the fact that suitable roles may not exist in the future with the workers current employer.

Judgement

As Participation in these games was mandatory, despite protestations the Plaintiff participated and sustained an ankle injury. Liability was admitted in the pre-proceedings process so this trial ran on quantum only.

In this trial, it was sought to establish the plaintiff would not have a reduced earning capacity due to their injury as the employer had a broad range of alternative duties to accommodate the worker in the event that they were unable to continue in their present position.

The judge accepted the workers evidence that their ankle injury had deteriorated in the past 8 months and that it did require further surgery, despite having a pessimistic view of the success of such surgery. The judge also accepted the workers evidence that there did not exist suitable alternative roles within the employer should they not be able to continue in their current position. It was on this basis that the judge made a very generous award for future economic loss which was $174,000.00.

Overall the worker awarded damages to the amount $269,644.70 which was clear of the statutory claim refund.