KONE Australia loses bid to overturn ACT Supreme Court ruling on negligence after Woden lift plunges | Canberra Times

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A global engineering firm found to have breached its duty of care after one of its Canberra lifts plunged and injured four women, leaving one at risk of quadriplegic, has had parts of its ACT court appeal described as have “no substance”. The ACT Supreme Court ruled in April 2020 that KONE Elevators breached its duty of care when an elevator in Lovett Tower collapsed twice in September 2013 due to a power outage, awarding the four plaintiffs about $ 2.43 million in compensation. Court documents say the elevator fell from the 19th floor and a woman said the elevator was then detached between floors three and four. Most of the injuries were to the women’s upper body, with one of them undergoing neurosurgery after being told she could become a quadriplegic if she did not. There were also psychological injuries with a woman experiencing avoidance of lifting, “intrusive re-experiencing phenomena with nightmares and flashbacks” and some general loss of resilience. MORE NEWS ABOUT CIVIL LAW Judge John Burns found that all of the plaintiffs were injured when the elevator was stopped due to “an intermittent current” because a KONE technician during maintenance broke a wire connected to a transformer inside the elevator control unit. The now retired judge found that KONE was “deputy liable for negligence for the damages”. In its appeal, KONE claimed that Justice Burns committed 28 errors related to liability, breach of duty, predictability of damage and causation, damages and costs. KONE claimed that one of the many wires in the elevator control unit that breaks is not an expression of negligence. It also said the broken wire was not connected to the technician’s work because the elevator did not have the problem of periodic stops leading up to the event. As to the duty of care, it said that a failure to discover a loose wire was not a breach because even with reasonable care, that discovery would not have taken place. KONE also argued that the primary judge should have accepted “the uncontested and uncontested” results of a simulation showing that the lift’s forces stopping, as it did, would have been “well below any possibility of injury”. A recent ruling by the ACT Court of Appeal dismissed the grounds of appeal regarding liability, saying the primary judge was entitled to conclude that the cord was broken by the negligence of a KONE technician. The court said that “there was no content” in the grounds of appeal in connection with breach of duty of care. In relation to the injuries, the court said that KONE had accepted the evidence that it was a known fact in the industry that a sudden stop of an elevator running at speed can cause injury to all passengers. KONE’s evidence also did not establish that the simulation “exactly repeated what had happened in the incident”. “But more telling is the consideration that it was not known how each of the plaintiffs was positioned in the lift, or how pre-existing injuries or weaknesses may have exacerbated their vulnerability to injury,” the court said. MORE NEWS The court reduced the compensation by about $ 320,000 for three of the women after affirming some of the grounds of appeal regarding compensation. Most of the justifications concerning legal costs were also taken into account. Sangeeta Sharmin, special adviser to Ken Cush and Associates, who represented the four women, said their clients “suffered tragic injuries in 2013 and after eight years we are one step closer to holding Kone accountable”. “Our customers are pleased with the result and grateful to the court for making a well-considered decision,” Ms Sharmin said. Jérme Audais, CEO of KONE Australia, said the incident was “an unfortunate and unusual set of facts and circumstances” that the company believes are unlikely to happen again. “Safety and quality are crucial at KONE, and we take pride in our high standards,” Mr Audais said. “If lessons can be learned from improving Kone’s processes and procedures, these will be implemented immediately.” Legal documents state that the evidence did not show that KONE’s maintenance scheme was deficient and that the Lovett Tower defect in 2013 was a “single case of negligence”. The costs of the complaint have not yet been determined. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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