Jackson v KAH Australia Pty Ltd t/as Bayview Boulevard Sydney [2017] NSWSC 747 Harrison AsJ 23 June 2017

The Supreme Court of New South Wales was asked, can a person whose unsafe premises causes an injury, be held responsible for the consequences of a further accident sustained by their victim as a result of the resulting unsteadiness on his or her feet? When assessing the claim by alternative medicine practitioner Liana Jackson who slipped and fell in the foyer of Sydney’s Bayview Boulevard Hotel in July 2011 as guests quickly retreated to shelter from a ferocious thunderstorm.

Jackson had been attending a seminar on neuro-linguistics, the behavioural science made popular by motivation guru Anthony Robbins. On her return to the Gold Coast she underwent a medical review that identified a fracture of her left ankle, fractures in her left foot and damage to the sural nerve. That put her in a moonboot and on crutches until October and her recovery was marred by considerable pain and numbness in the foot.

In January 2013 as she was leaving her bed to attend to her 4-yr-old daughter, she stumbled and crashed to the floor striking her head. She was revived from her unconscious state after about 10 minutes by her ex-partner who had arrived at the home. He arranged she be taken immediately to Pindara hospital for treatment for headaches, blurred vision, vomiting and pain.

Jackson sustained to further falls in September 2015 and November 2015 that resulted in ambulance transfers to Pindara emergency. On the first of those occasions she was admitted suffering vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and convulsions.

The November admission followed a collapse in the Gold Coast court complex in connection with family court custody proceedings. The judge in those proceedings ordered comply with a previous direction to undergo hair follicle, drug and alcohol testing. After that incident, her driver’s licence was also suspended pending epilepsy investigations, a condition of which she was cleared.

When her hotel foyer claim eventually came before the court, her legal team contended the Bayview Boulevard should be responsible for the consequences of all the falls. The case against the hotel came before Justice Joanne Harrison who accepted that the first fall resulted in chronic pain in Jackson’s left foot as a direct result of the hotel’s negligence. It should have taken swift measures to prevent water puddling on the foyer’s terrazzo surface.

Evidence in the form of a written statement from the former Front Office manager that at least three “slippery when wet” signs had been deployed in the lobby and no similar falls had been recorded prior to the incident, was dismissed as unreliable. At least three others had fallen during the same event as Jackson!

Medical evidence concluded though there was no permanent injury sustained from head strike in the second fall and that Jackson’s other symptoms were “overwhelmingly unrelated” to the hotel fall in July 2011.

Justice Harrison assessed damages in respect of the Bayview Boulevard incident only. Judgement was entered in Jackson’s favour in the total sum of $95k.

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