Employee awarded more than $1m after contracting Q Fever

07 MAY 2020


A project supervisor working at a State high school and who contracted Q Fever in course of his work, has been awarded more than $1m in damages, with the Supreme Court of Queensland apportioning liability between the employer and the State occupier.


Mr Stephen Thomson was employed by the Queensland Police-Citizens Youth Welfare Association (the association), as a project supervisor. As part of that employment, Mr Thomson was required to supervise a project to upgrade cattle yards and other items at the Southport High School Farm (the farm). In the course of that work, he was exposed to the bacterium which causes Q Fever, a disease he contracted. He then also developed Q Fever Debility Syndrome.

Court proceedings

Mr Thomson commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Queensland against the State of Queensland, as well as the association, in negligence and claimed damages. Mr Thomson claimed that the State had been aware of the risk of Q Fever at the farm and that the association’s assessment of contracting the disease had been inadequate.

Both the State and the association ultimately admitted liability to Mr Thomson, with the State accepting 80% liability for his injuries and the association accepting 20% liability. The quantum of damages remained contested. Damages against the State were to be assessed in accordance with common law principles, while damages against the association were to be assessed pursuant to Ch 5, Pt 8 and Pt 9 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld).

His Honour Applegarth J found that Mr Thomson was seriously debilitated by his present condition and his prognosis was not good. His Honour accepted that Mr Thomson’s existing condition, and his foreseeable future, were debilitated by pain and chronic fatigue and assessed general damages of $120,000.

Accordingly, the court upheld Mr Thomson’s claim: Thomson v State of Queensland & Anor [2019] QSC 95.

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.

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