Five Star Medical Centre, based in Port Macquarie, have won compensation in their civil liability claim for professional negligence against the local government authority for the Kempsey area.
On 25 February 2014, an aircraft from the Five Star Medical Centre was approaching the Kempsey Aerodrome, which is owned and operated by the Kempsey Council. When trying to land, the aircraft collided with a kangaroo that had strayed onto the runway. No person was injured in the collision, but the aircraft sustained serious damage costing approximately $160,000.
Five Star Medical Pty Ltd. started legal proceedings for what they thought was negligence on the part of the Kempsey Shire Council for not taking appropriate measures to either curtail the area's kangaroo hazards or warn pilots about the dangers.
What was the Kempsey council's duty of care?
Kempsey Council are the registered owners and operators of the Kempsey Aerodrome, and are in charge of managing air traffic and facilities. As such, they have a duty of care to the public in their safe access and use of the aerodrome space.
The space had already been identified as potentially high-risk for kangaroo collisions following previous visits from the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in 2009. This was followed up by claims from other aerodrome users that they had witnessed incoming aircraft struggling to land or taxi due to kangaroos on the runway.
The council said they would address this issue, with a number of options considered, including installing a kangaroo-proof fence and starting a culling process for the local kangaroo population.
How were they negligent in their duty of care?
Although the Kempsey Council sought tenders to build a fence and met with an ecologist to implement a wildlife hazard mitigation program, changes were ultimately shelved until a definite solution could be decided. In the meantime, the numbers of kangaroos rose to dangerous levels.
Prior to takeoff, the pilot of the aircraft identified that the Kempsey area had kangaroo warnings in place through an En Route Supplement Australia (ERSA) information guide. However, a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) statement, giving pilots specific operational information about a given airfield, hadn't been issued for Kempsey Aerodrome.
Negligence is a complicated area of NSW legislation, and you can easily find yourself the victim of it. If you have suffered personal injury in someone else's care, you may be entitled to compensation. We have a team of legal professionals ready to help, so please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation.