A man who represented himself and didn't bring strong medical evidence has failed in his claim of $4 million in damages against a property company. The case reinforced the importance of consulting experienced compensation lawyers. The team at Gerard Malouf and Partners could have warned the plaintiff that his case was going to fail because the defendants had CCTV footage that put the duty of care firmly back in the hands of the plaintiff.
Kitoko v Mirvac Real Estate Pty Ltd was brought before a NSW District Court in August 2015 but failed within three days. The plaintiff's claim stemmed from when he slipped, fell and hit his head on a glass door in a shopping centre central Sydney on October 5, 2010. The plaintiff claimed to have seen a puddle of liquid on the floor.
The shopping centre's management company and the cleaning company both became defendants in the claim under the Civil Liability Act 2002.
Unrealistic and unverified injury claims cost the plaintiff
The plaintiff argued the accident caused a head injury affecting his study, work and family life and destroyed his ambitions to enter politics. The plaintiff also brought weak evidence to court including a claim that his ordinary lifestyle involved 60 or 70 hours per week on domestic tasks at the same time as 12 hours a weekday at university and 12 hours each day of the weekend driving a taxi.
The plaintiff's case was not helped by the fact that the district court couldn't award more than $750,000, far less than the $4m million claimed. The multimillion dollar claim was made up of $300,000 for future medical expenses made up of surgery to the brain ($70,000), to the neck ($60,000), to the low back ($70,0000) plus "post operation treatments" ($100,000). He had even claimed low back, bowel, urine and sexual problems. The defendants offered just $2000 for medical expenses which had already occurred.
The smoking gun: CCTV footage
Liability through negligence was not proven in this case. The judge found that CCTV footage of the incident proved the plaintiff had walked straight into a sliding door that leads to the car park. Unfortunately the plaintiff couldn't even claim the $121,750 damages that the judge noted would have been reasonable for past and future economic loss and medical costs – the decision in favour of the defendants meant the plaintiff was ordered to pay the two defendants' legal costs.
Getting sound legal advice can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, Gerard Malouf and Partners are the experts in public liability especially where caused by slip and fall injuries.