Munro v State of Queensland [2014] QDC 003

Published 08 Nov 2015

This case was heard by the District Court of Queensland on 10 December 2014. Ms Munro was the Plaintiff in these proceedings acting against her employer, the Defendant, the State of Queensland. Ms Munro was employed by Logan Hospital as a registered nurse. The unit she was working in was potentially exposed to aggressive behaviour and as such, the Defendant, provided courses which would assist in managing and preventing harm in such circumstances.

During the process of one of these training courses, Ms Munro fell back and suffered an injury to her left hand. There was much conjecture between both parties as to whether or not enough reasonable care was taken in order to minimise the risk of injury. The instructor of the course was teaching the attendees how to perform a “shin stomp.” When it was Ms Munro’s turn to attempt it, she performed the stomp, placed her foot on the padded mats, attempted to slide it backwards whereby it got stuck and caused her to fall.

The argument put forward by the Defendant was that prior to performing the physical side of the course, there was a theory side which briefly discussed the chance of harm being suffered, and that all attendees were encouraged to walk around the mat beforehand to get a feel of the stability of it. The issue that arose was that the Plaintiff injured herself performing a backwards manoeuvre, which was not practiced beforehand. Ultimately, the presiding judge found the following:

Those risks could have been further minimised in the present case by a process of instruction in relation to this technique which involved splitting up the technique and teaching the different parts separately.”

Based on this finding, the judge found that the training which was provided by the employer was negligent. Judgment was entered in favour of the Plaintiff for an amount of $60,000.00 and an order was made for the Defendant to pay the costs of the Plaintiff.