Trtovac v Total Mix Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] VSC 149 (31 March 2022)

“Mr Lewis was an impressively careful and considered witness”

Case: Trtovac v Total Mix Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] VSC 149 (31 March 2022)

Date of Judgement: 31 March 2022

Court (Location): County Court of Victoria

Expert (for the Plaintiff): Roger Lewis, senior mechanical engineer

Solicitors: Carbone Lawyers (Plaintiff) and Minter Ellison (1st Defendant) and Sparke Helmore (2nd Defendant)

Legal Matter: Workplace injury – Concrete truck driver injured on ‘slump stand’ – Plaintiff employed by first defendant – Slump stand owned and controlled by second defendant.

Court Decision: Negligence – Claiming damages for pain and suffereing and past and future earning capacity.

Some extracts from Judge J O’Meara comments in relation to evidence provided by expert witness engineer Roger Lewis.

Paragraph 44: Roger Lewis, forensic engineer, gave evidence after I ruled on an objection by the second defendant to the admissibility of his evidence.

Paragraph 45: Mr Lewis wrote four reports. In oral evidence he explained the elements and operation of the slump stand.

Paragraph 46: Mr Lewis was shown the plaintiff’s video of the slump stand and gave evidence as follows –

Yes, I can see that the platform moves up and down repeatedly and there’s something wrong, it’s not normal behaviour, in my opinion. It doesn’t stay down. So, yes, I would say that supports my opinion that there is a problem with the pneumatic system

Paragraph 47: In cross-examination, Mr Lewis confirmed that if the platform of the slump stand had dropped like a stone, that would have presented a ‘higher risk’ of injury.

Paragraph 129: I also consider the plaintiff’s account concerning the behaviour of the slump stand platform to have been bolstered by the evidence of Mr Lewis. Mr Lewis was an impressively careful and considered witness.

Paragraph 130:  From the evidence that Mr Lewis gave, it was evident that he could speak to the operation of the pneumatic system on the slump stand with considerable authority even if there might be others who are even more expert or qualified.

Paragraph 131: That Mr Lewis could not precisely diagnose the problem does not detract from the substance of his oral evidence that it was a ‘pneumatic’ one

Paragraph 132: In this sense, the evidence of Mr Lewis gave a technical and mechanical plausibility to the plaintiff’s account of the incident and cast doubt upon the defendants’ suggestion that the event was to be explained by Mr Salton’s mere adjustment of the clevis: Mr Lewis could not ‘picture’ that explanation ‘to be true’

Paragraph 237: In that connection, as I have indicated, Mr Lewis suggested that the risk should have been detected in the course of risk assessment

Full court report can be accessed via the Australasian Legal InstituteTrtovax v Total Mix Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] VSC 9149 (31 March 2022)

Discuss your matter – obligation free