Court quashes sparky’s compo claim
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.