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  • 16Apr

    Widow sues employer after husband killed by farm slasher

    On 29 August 2013, Francesco Puleio was an employee of Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd and was working at the “Annuello” orchard in Wemen, Western Victoria. He died when a slasher, which was attached to a Kubota tractor, rolled onto him. The deceased had been using the tractor and slasher to mow grass on the property. A critical issue was the deceased’s level of intoxication at the time of the accident.

    Mrs Sandra Puleio, the widow of the deceased commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against Olam Orchards, in negligence and claimed damages. She claimed that her husband’s death was caused by the negligence of Olam Orchards and that as a “secondary victim” it also breached its duty of care towards her, causing her to suffer nervous shock, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

    Mrs Puleio also alleges that Olam Orchards failed to prevent the deceased from consuming alcohol on the premises after hours, failed to adequately train and supervise him, and failed to manage his fatigue levels, which she argued caused his death.

    Olam Orchards denied it was negligent. It argued that the deceased’s death was caused by his own carelessness, by consuming alcohol and for failing to apply the handbrake when the tractor was on a slope.

    Her Honour Zammit J found that the deceased’s intoxication and failure to apply the handbrake cannot be attributed to any negligence on the part of the Olam Orchards. Further, Olam Orchards did not breach its duty to take reasonable care to avoid risk to the deceased and it did not breach its duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing Mrs Puleio a reasonably foreseeable and recognisable psychiatric injury.

    Accordingly, Zammit J dismissed Mrs Puleio’s claim: Sandra Puleio v Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd [2018] VSC 109.

    For more information on the above contact Joe Bonura on (02) 4626 5077 or jbonura@marsdens.net.au.

    This article first appeared in the CCH Australian Tort, Personal Injury, Health and Medical Law Tracker and is reproduced in full with permission from CCH, a division of Wolters Kluwer Australia: www.wolterskluwer.cch.com.au

    The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

     

Marsdens Offices