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Evidence does not support damages claim

Lewis v Greenmountain Food Processing Pty Ltd

Reid DCJ

6 June 2014

A Brisbane judge rules against labourer's claims for damages for personal injuries suffered in the course of his employment at a meat processing plant due to conflicting evidence.

Background

The plaintiff was an 18 year old labourer employed in a meat processing plant near Gatton. He allegedly sustained an injury to his lower back while lifting a bag of meat into a dicing machine.

The plaintiff gave evidence that the incident occurred at about 8am. The plaintiff said he was engaged in the process of lifting and emptying a bag of meat, when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He said he felt immediate numbness in his legs, but continued working for a period of about 15 to 30 minutes, before reporting his injury to the front office. The plaintiff asserted that he then left the premises, and immediately attended his general practitioner.

Liability

The employer had no record of the claimant leaving work early on that day – the employer's records stated the plaintiff worked a full eight hours and the Court accepted this evidence.

The plaintiff had given different versions of the causes of injury, including lifting a box from the ground, suffering symptoms when kneeling down and suffering symptoms the Thursday prior.  The Court accepted the evidence from the employer that boxes did not touch the ground due to risk of contamination.

The plaintiff failed to disclose employment to his reporting specialists, including working long hours over a period of about five weeks, driving tractors and loaders.

Justice Reid stated that if it was accepted that the injury was sustained in the manner alleged, then the plaintiff would be able to establish negligence. Ultimately however, due to conflicting evidence and the plaintiff's presentation, he did not accept the injury occurred as alleged.

Judgement

Judgement was given in favour of the defendant. The plaintiff must pay the abattoir's legal costs for the five day trial.