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Suing for lack of a torch?

By johnboy 8 January 2009 55

The Canberra Times has a piece on the legal efforts of Merrilin Lucy Robbins, 60, to sue everyone involved with the 2006 production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury” at the Belconnen Community Centre in 2006.

The problem is she fell down the stairs while working backstage:

    The statement of claim also says the singers were negligent by not providing Ms Robbins with a torch or a partner to prevent mishaps in the backstage area.

    The singers have yet to lodge a defence while the Government and the community centre both claim they are not liable for the alleged accident.

Because, you know, individuals are incapable of providing themselves with torches as needed.

What’s Your opinion?

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55 Responses to
Suing for lack of a torch?
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Granny 10:51 am 09 Jan 09

Personally I would have said, “I fell down a set of stairs once ….” and I did too! Blimmin’ embarrassing with my skirt up around my neck and wondering if my head had cracked open on the concrete and everybody just walking past and stepping over me!!

Good old Bunda St, eh?

tylersmayhem 10:44 am 09 Jan 09

Just when I thought this post was getting boring! 😛

Sleaz274 10:43 am 09 Jan 09

…. I did use a set of stairs once……


I couldn’t let that one slide even at work. Thanks fred and nice to have you back stirring the pot Granni. hahahahaha

Personally in this ladies position I would sue the awful mythical creature she also works for as he/she/it obviously invented gravity and at such a rate as to cause injury to his wonderous creations. He also “intelligently designed” our eyes and motor skills to fail with increasing age. Sue God or whichever unicorn you believe in.

fnaah 8:58 am 09 Jan 09

18 months down the track and the defendants haven’t managed to get their defence in order; luckily some posters here seem to know precisely what happened.

Perhaps the defence solicitor has advised his client that they need not worry as the suit is frivolous and will get thrown out of court.

wot said fred 8:47 am 09 Jan 09

about time for the “I used some stairs once” post – oh, I’ve done it, ’bout run its course this one????

Granny 8:12 am 09 Jan 09

I know … let’s ban stairs. Someone might fall down them.

poptop 8:06 am 09 Jan 09

Walking from a brightly lit place to a dark place tends to impact on anyone’s capacty to see.

Sight adjustment slows as you age and falls tend to have more serious consequences.

It was opening night. Sometimes people get a bit jittery under such circumstanc and may not behave with their usual levels of caution.

A torch, a companion or stairs that met the legal requirement may well have prevented the accident.

18 months down the track and the defendants haven’t managed to get their defence in order; luckily some posters here seem to know precisely what happened.

Granny 12:42 am 09 Jan 09

Ok, I agree that it was appallingly gross negligence beyond belief for them not to give Ms Robbins instructions in how to hand out song sheets while climbing dimly lit backstage stairs, let alone not providing her with a torch or a partner to prevent mishaps in the backstage area … as one does.

poptop 11:43 pm 08 Jan 09

Granny, although I don’t understand your position on this issue, you are quite entitled to have it.

You know I’m always happy to heap scorn on any obvious ‘tards, but at this stage I am not convinced that Ms Robbins qualifies.

There are obligations on any organisation that uses staff or volunteers to assist them in remaining safe and healthy as well as complying with relevant legislation. The case is based on a claim that these obligations have not been met. No doubt the court will hear quite a lot about it.

While $18k seems like a lot of money, it appears from the article that Ms Robbins trying to recoup the costs she has incurred, not a major payout for pain and suffering or all the other padding devices.

I am not trying to support all the stuff you referred to via the Weird Al song reference and agree we don’t want the level of litigiousness that the USA operates under; I am trying to suggest that may be another side to this is all.

Gerry-Built 11:38 pm 08 Jan 09

It is all so obvious: someone backstage said “break a leg” – and she took ’em seriously/literally – c’mon, how did this get missed ’til now !!!

Granny 11:21 pm 08 Jan 09

Poptop, I have read the original article, as I do have the ability to read, as well as to think for myself such as in the recent smoking thread where JB and I had quite differing opinions.

poptop 11:11 pm 08 Jan 09

I think the apparent inability to read the original article and JB’s sense of the ridiculous (?) are probably part of the problem here.

The claim is also about the stairs not complying with the relevant code.

If JB had posted this as ‘stupid community organisation injures old lady volunteer through gross negligence’ the discussion could have been quite different.

We are his clay.


harvyk1 10:54 pm 08 Jan 09

PsydFX said :

Workplace safety is not the sole responsibility of the individual, an OH&S assesment should have been made which would have outlined the potential for injury.

So if you see a frayed power cord at work, do you go “Not my problem”? Or do you do something about it?

Yes, they probably should have done an OH&S audit, but how do you know one was not done? We only really know the following facts,

1 – She injured herself.
2 – She claims a torch could have prevented the injury.
3 – She is suing everyone because no one provided her a torch.

Beyond these three facts we really don’t know anything. Based on these three facts which the media has given us we can only come to the following determinations

1 – The area required either additional lighting or a guard rail to make the area safe

2 – The person should have identified the fact that they where entering an unsafe area based on their own limitations. (Who knows, a 60 year olds eye sight may not be as good as a 30 year olds, and thus had the person had better eye sight no issue would have existed, not every job is suited to every person)

3 – Rectifying the safety issues was well within the person power, by either requesting a torch from the venue, the organisers or by supplying one of her own.

I will agree with poptop though, it may be a ruse to simply get the insurance companies to cough up under public liability, rather than going to the org itself.

poptop 10:34 pm 08 Jan 09

It seems we are drawing an awful lot of “evidence” from a brief article in The Crimes (what’s wrong with this picture?)

It is possible Ms Robbins is a litigious vampire, merely seeking to suck the lifeblood of an innocent community art organisation. Personally, I would try for a richer victim to rort(the Canberra Centre with the travelator of doom springs to mind)

It is also possible that the organisation stuffed up and was negligent. Walking off a brightly lit stage into a darkened auditorium can be disorienting,in which case a hand rail may have been the required safety thingy.

It is even conceivable that the case is actually about getting the insurance company to cough up on the liability claim.

sepi 10:34 pm 08 Jan 09

It sounds like she was volunteering in this amateur production. So noone was forcing her to take part, and if she felt the stairs were too much for her she should have said so.

I am sorry she got injured, but I think it is a pity for her to have jumped straight into a law suit.

Now any other older people who want to take part in productions will probably be discouraged for fear of more law suits.

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