A FORMER ferry master who fell and injured his collarbone while working on the Comerong Island ferry has been stripped of a $370,000 compensation payout.
The NSW Court of Appeal this month overruled an earlier court decision awarding Clint Pender $370,242 in damages as a result of the 2007 fall.
The court found the original judge had incorrectly concluded that Shoalhaven City Council, which owns the ferry service, was liable for Mr Pender’s injuries.
The Court of Appeal judgment said Mr Pender began working for the Comerong service only days prior to the accident, which occurred on the morning of April 9, 2007 when the ferry was docked at the mainland ramp.
Mr Pender told the court he walked around the front of the six-vehicle ferry onto a concrete ramp to check “my clearances and my marks ... so that I ... would not ground the ferry ...”
He said he squatted down on the ramp to look underneath it and when he finished and stood up, twisted on his feet, slipped and fell over, injuring his collarbone.
Mr Pender gave conflicting evidence as to the cause of the accident, initially saying there was no algae or slime on the ramp, which he later repeated during cross examination, however, in further questioning said there was dried algae where he fell.
The court heard Mr Pender had a short amount of time off work then returned to light duties, but was not able to perform the same tasks, such as filling fuel tanks and opening gates.
His employment was terminated in June 2007.
He had surgery on his collarbone in September 2007 and has been unable to work full-time ever since.
The court heard at the time of the appeal, Mr Pender was working for a kebab company.
In their judgment, Court of Appeal judges Justice Ruth McColl, Justice Julie Ward and Justice Reg Barrett said Mr Pender failed to establish why he slipped and that the slip was a result of the council’s negligence.
As a result, they discarded the earlier District Court decision and found in favour of the council, ordering Mr Pender to pay the council’s legal costs.