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Verdict summary in the matter of Jodie-Anne Gardam v State of Victoria.

Summary of Verdict

Jodie-Anne Gardam v State of Victoria - S CI 2018 00972

13 September 2019

On 13 September 2019, a civil jury of six found that an employer was not liable for an injury arising out of an incident which occurred during the course of the plaintiff ’s employment as a teacher at Narre Warren South College.

The plaintiff alleged that on 10 February 2014, while walking along a pathway on the school grounds, she was struck unexpectedly and very forcefully on the right hand side of her face by a soccer ball kicked at high velocity by a school student. The plaintiff claimed that the area in which she was walking was one in which the kicking of soccer balls was prohibited by the school’s rules, and there was no adequate supervision taking place at the time of the occurrence.

As a result of the incident, the plaintiff claimed to have suffered injuries to her head, neck and spine including the aggravation of a pre-existing syrinx, concussion, psychological injuries, headaches, nausea, sonophobia and photophobia. The plaintiff, who was 36 years of age at the time of the incident, claims she has been unable to work since late 2014 as a result of her injuries. 

The plaintiff alleged that the teacher on yard duty failed to adequately supervise the students, that this constituted negligence, and that this led to her suffering harm. The plaintiff also alleged that this constituted a breach of her employment contract, as there was a failure to take reasonable care to avoid the plaintiff suffering reasonably foreseeable injury in the course of her employment.

The defendant submitted to the jury that they should not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was negligence by the teacher which was a cause of injury to the plaintiff. The defendant submitted that the plaintiff had failed to establish what had occurred on the day of the incident, and that a finding of negligence in these circumstances would be speculative.

The jury found that there was no negligence on the part of the defendant which caused injury to the plaintiff. In light of that finding, the jury did not make any award of damages.

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Note: a jury does not give reasons for its verdict.

Author
Supreme Court of Victoria
Publisher
Supreme Court of Victoria
Date of publication