Suncorp employee loses his handle on compensation claim

A TOOWOOMBA man who was awarded compensation after bumping his knee on a cupboard door at work has had his claim overturned.

Ian David Larkin claimed he sustained a minor injury in 2008 while working at the Suncorp call centre in Toowoomba as an insurance sales officer.

Mr Larkin pursued a compensation claim based on an alleged breach of contract and negligence by Suncorp.

At the initial trial in February, Judge Nicholas Samios was satisfied there was more than a slight chance Mr Larkin could suffer injury by coming into contact with the handle on the cupboard.

The court heard Mr Larkin bumped the inside of his right knee on a cupboard door handle while using a phone situated on a bench in the office designated for employees' use.

The offending handles protruded about 3.8cm from the door.

However, barristers for Suncorp argued, on appeal, that the "more than a slight chance" finding was made without any reasons and their client would not have needed to take any action on the handles because the risk was slight.

The Queensland Court of Appeal agreed on Friday (Sept 27) and overturned the original decision handed down on February, 22, 1013.

Justice John Muir, in outlining his reasons for overturning the original decision, said he did not believe Suncorp would knowingly place its employees in harm's way.

"I do not accept that a reasonable employer in the position of the appellant would have foreseen that a failure to remove the subject handles, or take other remedial action in relation to them, would have involved a risk that employees using the bench could sustain an injury more severe than minor bruising," he said.

Furthermore, the court ordered Mr Larkin to pay for the cost associated with Suncorp's appeal.



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