Coles must pay cancer survivor hit by trolley

Date: October 26, 2012

COLES has lost its appeal against a court ruling that it pay nearly $500,000 in damages to a woman who was hit by a trolley in one of its supermarkets.

Maria Haleluka, 51, was awarded the damages in the NSW District Court last year after she was struck by the box-laden trolley that was being pushed by a Coles employee at Kellyville.

Coles appealed against the court decision, arguing the damages were excessive.

But in a judgment handed down in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, Justice James Allsop rejected the supermarket’s submissions, saying they ”could be described as less than helpful”. In his judgment, Justice Allsop said: ‘‘the submissions asserted that the primary judge’s view was excessive … No reasoned basis was put for the challenge.”

When Ms Haleluka was hit by the trolley in August 2008, she had been planning to return to work as a registered nurse after being successfully treated for breast cancer.

The following June, Ms Haleluka and her husband became the long-term foster carers for a then 10-month-old boy, who they were hoping to adopt, Justice Allsop said.

In awarding Ms Haleluka the damages last year, Judge Michael Elkaim said the ”optimism which had blossomed” after her recovery from breast cancer had been ”destroyed by the pain she suffers from her right hip”.

He awarded her more than $497,000, which included $40,000 for future medical treatment and more than $110,000 for future economic loss.

In the appeal, the supermarket chain submitted that there were a number of other jobs Ms Haleluka had held in the past, which she could do again.

However, Justice Allsop said that ”the evidence does not support a conclusion that her opportunities are now so meaningful and diverse that assessment of damages for impairment of earning capacity would be misleading”.

The court heard that, since the accident, Ms Haleluka’s husband had been leaving home at 3.30am to be back early to attend to household chores, as she was unable to perform domestic duties.

Article source: www.smh.com.au