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  • Unreported Judgment

Griffiths v Martlew

 

[2003] QSC 237

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

CIVIL JURISDICTION

JONES J

Claim No 232 of 1998

AADEN JAMES GRIFFITHS AN INFANT BY HIS LITIGATION

GUARDIAN CAROLLYN ANN SOBLUSKY

First Plaintiff

and

 

KEARNNA CAITLYN SHAE TRIMBLE AN INFANT BY HER

LITIGATION GUARDIAN TRACEY TRIMBLE

Second Plaintiff

and

 

JUSTIN JAMES CRAIG SCOTT TRIMBLE AN INFANT BY HIS

LITIGATION GUARDIAN TRACEY TRIMBLE

Third Plaintiff

and

 

BENJAMIN JAMES COOK AN INFANT BY HIS LITIGATION

GUARDIAN LEANNA FRANCIOSA (NEE COOK)

Fourth Plaintiff

and

 

ANDREW GEORGE MARTLEW

First Defendant

and

 

STATE GOVERNMENT INSURANCE COMMISSION

GENERAL INSURANCE LTD

(ACN 069 065 158)

Second Defendant

CAIRNS

DATE 14/07/2003

 

JUDGMENT

HIS HONOUR: Yes. I will give some brief reasons. On the 15th of December 1994 Craig Adam Griffiths was a passenger in a motor vehicle which went out of control and crashed. Griffiths suffered injuries which resulted in his death.

This action concerns claims made by four infant children for the loss of the deceased's financial support. The first defendant, the driver of the vehicle, was found guilty of dangerous driving and there was clearly negligence in causing the deceased's death.

A number of liability issues have been raised against the deceased. These related to the intoxication of the driver and questions of volens and also the deceased's failure to wear a seatbelt. Some discounting of the amount of damages was appropriate in respect of these matters.

The infant children were born as a result of the deceased's short association with three different women who are now respectively the litigation guardians of the infants. The deceased's support for the children during his lifetime was sporadic and uncertain.

He was only 21 years old at the time of his death. He had worked in a variety of jobs as a tradesman's assistant, lawnmowing, station hand, delivery driver, bar attendant and labourer. He also played music at a nightclub. His periods of employment were interspersed with long periods of unemployment and his receipt of social security benefits.

His assessable income in any of the years of his working life was really of a low order. More than that the amounts which he contributed to the upkeep of the children were quite small.

There was nothing in the material to indicate that there was likely to be any significant change in this workstyle although one imagines that with the passage of time he would have had more security in his employment and therefore a more reliable and higher income.

But the question then remains as to whether any income which he did earn in the future would have been applied in a way that went close to meeting the demands of these children. The greater likelihood is that burden would have fallen to the mothers, any future partner of theirs and to the Social Securities Department.

These matters, of course, make it somewhat difficult to arrive at any precise calculation as to the loss of financial dependency and make impossible any assessment of what services the deceased would have supplied to these children in the course of their lifetime. Essentially, the task was to assess the loss of a chance based on that rather limited and uncertain information.

I have been favoured with an opinion by Mr Turnbull of counsel which, on my reading of it, takes into account all the relevant issues which would touch upon the assessment of the loss of dependency for each of the claimants.

Having regard to those matters I am satisfied that the proposed settlement of this action should be sanctioned. Each of the litigation guardians agrees with this course. The children themselves are a very young age and the list of uncertainties which confront their future, of course, is very long.

I would therefore sanction settlement of the claims of the first, second, third and fourth plaintiffs in the sums of $24,595, $20,177, $23,381 and $22,129 respectively.

I will make orders in terms of the amended draft initialled by me and placed with the papers. I direct that the opinion of Mr Turnbull be placed in a sealed envelope and marked “Not to be opened except with the leave of the Court”.

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Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Aaden James Griffiths v Andrew George Martlew

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Griffiths v Martlew

  • MNC:

    [2003] QSC 237

  • Court:

    QSC

  • Judge(s):

    Jones J

  • Date:

    14 Jul 2003

Litigation History

No Litigation History

Appeal Status

No Status