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A Melbourne man who will need to have his foot amputated following a workplace accident was awarded $1.26 million in compensation for his pain and suffering and loss of employment in the Supreme Court of Victoria yesterday.
Linton Shirreff, 49 of Glenroy, was employed by a company controlled by well-known Melbourne businessman Gary Morgan to supervise and work on the refurbishment of a building at Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD. The accident happened during June 2002 when the ground floor lift was not working, and Mr Shirreff’s employer instructed him to "fix it immediately".
Mr Sherriff was on a ladder inside the lift shaft attempting to fix the problem when he fell and sustained a devastating injury to his right foot.
Since that day, Mr Shirreff has suffered severe and unrelenting pain, and restriction of movement, in his right foot. He has been advised to amputate the foot, and he has accepted this is inevitable at some time in the future. As a result of this traumatic workplace accident, Mr Shirreff suffers severe stress, anxiety and depression.
With the help of Slater and Gordon worker’s compensation lawyer John Karantzis, Mr Shirreff successfully sued his employer for negligence following a 10 day hearing.
Supreme Court Justice Robson found Mr Shirreff’s employer, Elazac Pty Ltd, had breached its duty of care, and this breach had caused shocking injuries. Justice Robson awarded damages to Mr Shirreff for pain, suffering and loss of amenities in life of $320,000 plus damages for pecuniary loss of $940,000, totalling $1.26 million, plus a substantial amount of interest.
Mr Shirreff said the compensation would go towards helping him rebuild his life.
"Since this accident, I’ve been in constant pain, lost the ability to work, and haven’t been able to get my life back on track," he said.
"This win now means I can have some hope for my future."
Lawyer John Karantzis said the case was a clear warning to employers using sub-standard workplace practices.
"Mr Shirreff should never have had to suffer such pain and now face the reality he will need to have his foot amputated," Mr Karantzis said.
His work prospects have been destroyed, and this accident has taken a huge toll on his personal life.
"Clearly, a safe and systematic workplace would have prevented such an accident. Cases like this show how important it is for employers to take responsibility for workplace safety - as the consequences can be devastating."