Court quashes sparky’s compo claim

Pilbara News - - News - Pe­ter de Krui­jff

Former fly-in, fly-out elec­tri­cian Rod­ney Keith Pig­gott fell asleep on a plane to Parabur­doo two years ago and woke up with neck pain which he used as the ba­sis for a suc­cess­ful worker’s com­pen­sa­tion claim.

How­ever, the de­ci­sion by an ar­bi­tra­tor in May this year for his former em­ployer Spot­less to make weekly compo pay­ments dat­ing back to De­cem­ber 17, 2013 was quashed in an ap­peal in the Perth Dis­trict Court last month.

The 60-year-old Mr Pig­gott had been work­ing for the com­pany for more than a year when he woke up from sleep­ing against the plane win­dow at the end of a flight from Perth to Parabur­doo on De­cem­ber 15, 2013, with se­vere pain in his “neck re­gion”.

The next day he told his su­per­vi­sor he was strug­gling with neck pain but con­tin­ued with his nor­mal du­ties but found rais­ing his arms above shoul­der height in­creased pain.

He was later di­ag­nosed with wry neck at the Tom Price Med­i­cal Cen­tre and on Jan­uary 13, 2014, in­flam­ma­tion, and a ten­don tear in his left shoul­der which re­quired surgery. Mr Pig­gott’s claim from March 2014 stated he’d re­ceived a shoul­der in­jury from sit­ting on a “plane /lift­ing a bag”.

In their ap­peal, Spot­less said the ar­bi­tra­tor had not given weight to Mr Pig­gott not pro­vid­ing med­i­cal ev­i­dence of whether the shoul­der was frayed dur­ing the flight or not.

Dis­trict Court Judge Philip Pierre McCann al­lowed the ap­peal and in his de­ci­sion noted the ar­bi­tra­tor should not have found for Mr Pig­gott just be­cause of the onset of symp­toms when he had pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. He said the ar­bi­tra­tor did not ex­plain why the flight had some­thing to do with ini­ti­at­ing or pro­long­ing the in­jury.

How­ever, Judge McCann said this did not mean Mr Pig­gott’s claim should fail.

The mat­ter has been re­mit­ted to the Worker’s Com­pen­sa­tion Ar­bi­tra­tion Ser­vice.

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