An Indian-origin couple has lost their claim to damages against retail chain Woolworths after a NSW District Court said they should have been “taking care for their own safety.”
A Sydney-based Indian couple has lost their claim of breach of duty of care by the retail chain Woolworths, which resulted in the wife tripping on goods near an aisle of a store, causing the woman to fall and the husband being allegedly injured attempting to support her.
In his appeal, Mr Khanna had claimed that after entering the store at Rouse Hill in Sydney on 18 April 2015, his wife caught her left foot on the front left legs of the chairs near the end of one aisle.
According to a recently released court document, “The plaintiff alleges, in summary, that his wife, Mrs Khanna, tripped on the legs of chairs of a stack of chairs in the defendant’s store which was negligently placed by the defendant creating a trip hazard and this caused the plaintiff’s wife to fall. The plaintiff says that he attempted to stop his wife from falling and, as a result, fell himself, causing injuries to him.
Mr Khanna pleaded that his injury “occurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence which included a failure to safely format the layout of the floor of the store, a failure to arrange the stock to avoid the risk of injury and creating a hazard by putting large stacks of chairs where shoppers may trip over them.”
In a Statement of Particulars filed on 1 July 2019, Mr Khanna claimed extensive injuries as a result of the accident, including anxiety and mental distress, a knee injury, a cervical spine injury, and injuries to the pelvis and right hip.
He also claimed that the psychiatric injury suffered includes depression, and the injuries have caused continuing disabilities, including an inability to walk, which results in worsening diabetes.
However, the judge found that Mr Khanna “injured his right knee in the 2015 accident. He also mildly aggravated pre-existing injuries to his right hip, right shoulder and lower back.”
“I am not satisfied that anything other than soft tissue injuries were occasioned by the accident… I find the plaintiff’s pain in the knee and right hip is continuing. There is no indication of the need for surgery,” said the judge.
Judge also rejected negligence based on a failure to warn. He said, “In my view, the risk in the present case of the plaintiff falling if she did not exercise reasonable care for her own safety in walking near the stack of chairs was an obvious risk within s 5F of the CLA as it would be obvious to a reasonable person in the position of Mrs Khanna and the plaintiff taking care for their own safety.”
“The risk was clear and patent. Mr Khanna was essentially walking near his wife but further away from the stack of chairs. The duty owed to him was satisfied by the defendant taking reasonable precautions to avoid a trip and fall to another customer on the chairs. The stack of chairs, in my view, was clearly able to be seen by any approaching customer.”
Rejecting the claims on 20 October 2021, Judge Dicker ordered the couple “to pay the defendant’s costs of the proceedings as agreed or assessed.”
Mr and Mrs Khanna could not be reached for comment, and NRI Affairs is not aware if any parties have appealed against the order.