Livestock trailer injury leads to $1.5m payout

Livestock carrier found liable for injury to farm worker

Livestock trailer injury leads to $1.5m payout
The worker was injured while unloading sheep

A recent New South Wales Supreme Court decision highlights the dangers of exposing others to risk in livestock transport.

Farm worker Ross Monteleone was awarded nearly $1.5 million in damages for an injury caused in 2013 while unloading sheep from a trailer operated by Andrew Thorn of Thorn Transport.

Monteleone, 31 years old at the time and "experienced in taking delivery of stock from external stock carriers", was working for Lugano Pastoral Company in Narrawa in NSW when Thorn sought assistance unloading sheep from his trailer.

"Whilst he had his arm inside the trailer pushing the sheep’s heads so that they would move out of the trailer, the defendant moved a deck within the trailer such that it dropped onto the plaintiff’s arm," the NSW Supreme Court heard.

The incident fractured Monteleone’s arm and caused chronic neuropathic pain, reducing his capacity for ongoing work and leading to depression and alcoholism that has impacted his familial relationships.

Justice Richard Cavanagh accepts Monteleone’s version of events, corroborated by Lugano Pastoral employers William Andrew Kelly, William Richard Kelly and Margaret Jane Kelly, and medical evidence of his ongoing conditions.

Thorn’s allegation that Monteleone and his employers were untruthful, including evidence comprising covert surveillance of the former after the incident, was dismissed.

His counter-claim that the Kellys were liable was also thrown out.

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"The defendant has not identified any precautions that should have been taken by the employers which would have prevented the accident," Justice Cavanagh notes.

"The plaintiff had been instructed by the employer to attend at the sheep yards and take delivery of the sheep.

"He had not been instructed by the employers to assist the plaintiff in the unloading.

"The plaintiff did not suffer injury as a result of some defect in the trailer or some misadventure with the sheep.

"The plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the conduct of the defendant in dropping the deck without checking that the plaintiff’s arm was inside the trailer."

The final payout of $1,420,971 includes non-economic loss of $275,000, past economic loss of $298,200, future loss of earning capacity of $504,365, loss of superannuation of $88,282, past gratuitous care of $45,240, future commercial care of $112,584, past out-of-pocket expenses of $59,299.86, future out-of-pocket expenses of $30,000.


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