Qld woman awarded $332k after obese man fell on her
A SUPPORT worker who was injured when a 190kg man fell on her has been awarded a $332,189 WorkCover payout.
Therese Gai McCormack, 50, suffered a painful shoulder injury that required surgery and took her former employer Former Ethnic Community Care Links Inc to court for negligence.
Townsville District Court judge Stuart Durward published a judgment in favour of Ms McCormack.
Ms McCormack went to the at Ayr Hospital in June 2011 to meet the man for his dental appointment.
When she arrived, the "grossly obese man" was lying face down in a maxi taxi with his legs halfway out.
Ms McCormack was shocked and phoned her employer, asking her to call emergency services.
"The plaintiff said she got into the maxi-taxi through the wheelchair access entry in order to comfort (the man) and knelt on the floor in front of (him) at his head," the judgment read.
"The interior rear of the taxi had a bench seat behind the interior divider. She talked to him and tried to keep him calm by telling him 'Everything is going to be all right and we'll get you out of here as soon as we can'."
Two hospital orderlies came out to assist, pulling his arms back in an attempt to lift him.
Ms McCormack said the man either slipped or the orderlies dropped him and her right shoulder was forced into the metal leg of a seat.
"(He) leant on me and just all of a sudden I just had the biggest pain in my shoulder," she told the court.
After the injury, Ms McCormack worked only every second night doing light work.
In 2014 she relocated with her partner to Karumba where they opened a hot bread shop, but her injuries prevent her from doing baking work.
During the trial barrister Jeffrey Rolls for Ethnic Community Care Links argued that Ms McCormack had not followed the correct procedures.
"He submitted that the plaintiff was simply to meet (the man) at the hospital and be present through his dental appointment to give assistance in interpreting conversation between the dentist and (the man)," the judgment read.
"He submitted that there was no requirement or expectation for the plaintiff to enter the taxi."
Judge Durward disagreed, saying Ms McCormack's conduct had not been "act of folly".
"I see nothing unreasonable about her placing herself in a position close to his head as he lay face down in the vehicle in a highly distressed state," he said.
"The fact that she placed her hands on his shoulders as the others outside the vehicle pilled him up in order to bring his legs outside the vehicle so as to place him in a wheelchair, seems to me to be a perfectly natural, compassionate and comforting act ..."
The judge assessed Ms McCormack's future loss of earnings to be $400 a week for 12 years, totalling more than $170,000.
Her past economic loss was calculated to be $121,028.
The total damages awarded came to $332,189.