Loading...
Queensland Judgments

beta

Authorised Reports & Unreported Judgments
Exit Distraction Free Reading Mode
  • Unreported Judgment

Maguire v Cruickshank

 

[2008] QSC 84

 

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

  

PARTIES:

FILE NO:

Trial Division

PROCEEDING:

Trial

ORIGINATING COURT:

DELIVERED ON:

8 May 2008.

DELIVERED AT:

Supreme Court, Brisbane

HEARING DATE:

14 and 15 April 2008.

JUDGE:

Byrne SJA

ORDER:

Both claims dismissed.

CATCHWORDS:

TORTS - NEGLIGENCE - ESSENTIALS OF ACTION FOR NEGLIGENCE - WHERE ECONOMIC OR FINANCIAL LOSS - CARELESS ACTS OR OMISSIONS- where medical practitioner supplied medico-legal report to Tribunal - whether content of report was negligent - whether negligence contributed to Tribunal's rejection of plaintiff's claim.

Hegarty v Queensland Ambulance Service [2007] QCA 366,

Lewis v Hillhouse [2005] QCA 316

Woolcock Street Investments Pty Ltd v CDG Pty Ltd (2004) 216 CLR 515

COUNSEL:

Plaintiff in person on 14 April. Mrs Maguire (by leave on 15 April).

Mr G.W. Diehm for the defendants.

SOLICITORS:

Blake Dawson for the defendants.

Parties

[1] Dr Piaggio has practised as a psychiatrist for almost 29 years. Dr Cruickshank has been a general practitioner since 1965.  Mr Maguire was Dr Piaggio’s patient for about seven years from July 1995.  He was under Dr Cruikshank’s care for a decade ending in 1990 or thereabouts. 

Claims

[2] The claim against Dr Cruickshank was abandoned on the first day of the trial.

[3] Mr Maguire’s claim against Dr Piaggio is for damages for negligence.  It is founded on a contention that Mr Maguire suffered economic loss through a report Dr Piaggio sent to WorkCover Queensland (“WorkCover”) in connection with Mr Maguire’s application to reopen an old claim for worker’s compensation . 

First Worker’s Compensation Claim

[4] In July 1991, Mr Maguire represented himself before the General Medical Assessment Tribunal – Psychiatric, pursuing a claim for worker’s compensation.  The Tribunal determined that he had suffered compensable injury: “an Adjustment Disorder with Anxious Mood aggravated by work circumstances”.  In the Tribunal’s assessment, the injury had resulted in temporary, total incapacity.  The Tribunal recommended payment of compensation for the two months immediately after Mr Maguire had ceased work. $3,555.18 compensation was paid for the period 8 June – August 1990.

Job

[5] Mr Maguire had worked for years as an inspector at a weighbridge at Gailes.  When the weighbridge was closed in the late 1980s, the nature of his work changed.  The new duties involved “long range driving and roadside interception of heavy vehicles”, as a letter written in December 1989 by Mr Stevenson, Acting Director-General of the Department of Transport, to Dr Cruickshank explains.

[6] Mr Stevenson’s letter also informed Dr Cruickshank that Mr Maguire’s “previous work partners” thought that his medication affected his concentration while driving, as well as his judgment of speed and distance when intercepting heavy vehicles. These informants reported that Mr Maguire sometimes failed to take notice of road signs and that, when signalling heavy vehicles to stop for kerbside inspection, he had not always given the driver adequate notice.  Drivers then had to brake heavily, with resultant dangers to Mr Maguire, the truck driver, and other road users.

[7] Mr Stevenson sought a report from Dr Cruickshank about any medical or other reason which would adversely affect Mr Maguire’s ability to carry out his duties. 

Medication

[8] By letter dated 10 January 1990, Dr Cruickshank replied to Mr Stevenson. During the previous eight years, he wrote, Mr Maguire had suffered both an anxiety state and “nervous dyspepsia”.  He was medicated with Serepax for his anxiety and Stelazine for the “nervous dyspepsia”.  Mr Maguire had been advised that the medications “may possibly cause drowsiness and that his competence in driving and working with machinery may be diminished”.  Mention was also made of Mr Maguire’s decision to withdraw from the medication. 

[9] Dr Piaggio testified to the properties and uses of the two drugs. Serepax is an anxiolytic.  It relaxes patients with anxiety-related symptoms.  Stelazine is a major tranquiliser and antipsychotic medication, used for psychotic illnesses, including those that manifest symptoms of paranoia.  It may be prescribed for agitation, aggressiveness and overwhelming thoughts.  In the 1980s, it was also used for anxiety associated with agitation. 

[10] Mr Maguire took long service leave so that his withdrawal from the drugs would be managed under Dr Cruickshank’s supervision. In April and May 1990, Mr Maguire was tested for work performance, including his driving ability.  Within weeks, he had ceased employment and lodged his worker’s compensation claim. 

Dr Piaggio’s involvement

[11] On 11 July 1995, Dr Piaggio first met Mr Maguire, who was then on leave from the Barrett Psychiatry Centre at Wacol.  Mrs Maguire joined them during the interview. 

[12] At this initial consultation, Mr Maguire supplied an extensive history.  His wife also contributed information.  She spoke of her husband’s “paranoid symptoms”[1]  having started when his duties changed from weighbridge to “mobile” in 1988. Mrs Maguire recalled that Mr Maguire’s work situation came to be a problem when workmates made accusations about his driving. The informants had been friends, which made the accusations a “shock”. 

[13] Dr Piaggio’s notes, taken as the interview progressed, record those revelations and other details. 

[14] Towards the end of the interview, Dr Piaggio enquired whether there had been anything in the past that seemed strange. Making a note as Mr Maguire related the incident, Dr Piaggio recorded: “Family ill with Giardia after we won a dishwasher in 1981”. Mr Maguire “blamed the dishwasher. Thought Greg Chappell (GRUB) had something to do with it – (as a revenge for a comment he shouted out at the cricket)”.[2]

[15] Dr Piaggio also wrote down that there seemed to be “some history of paranoid ideas (eccentric ideas)”.   In that context, he made a note of having been told that the Maguires’ child, Anthony, had experienced “bad eyes” about nine years earlier. The Maguires thought the condition was related to eating chocolate icecream.

[16] The stories about Greg Chappell having arranged for Mrs Maguire to win an infected dishwasher and about ice-cream having caused the boy’s eye problem were not seen as telling indications of paranoia. Paranoia was an hypothesis on the information available at this first interview. Eccentricity was also a possibility. Dr Piaggio looked for more information.

Investigating medical history

[17] On the day of the initial consultation, Dr Piaggio wrote to Mr Maguire’s general practitioner, Dr Lawton, recording that Mr Maguire had told him that he was on leave from the Barrett Centre, where he had been for three weeks.  The admission to that psychiatric institution became necessary because Mr Maguire was angry with his wife and she was afraid that he would “blow up like he did in 1994” when he struck her in the paranoid belief that she was poisoning him.  The letter continued:

 

“This man dates his problem since about 1989 when he had the stress of some accusations made about his performance at work. This led to his resignation and subsequent stress claim to Workers’ Compensation.  His first admission for his paranoid behaviour was in 1990.  I will need more information about his history, both prior to 1989, and since then. John has given his permission for me to get the information.  I wonder how far back his paranoid symptoms really started.  He was on Stelazine for ‘stomach cramps’ since 1980…”

[18] Dr Piaggio obtained information from Dr Cruickshank over the telephone within a fortnight of the initial consultation with Mr Maguire. By then, Dr Cruickshank had not treated Mr Maguire for about five years. Dr Piaggio’s contemporaneous handwritten notes of this conversation record that Dr Cruickshank was to “send info” about Mr Maguire.  He also noted: “long term paranoia – why he was on Stelazine all that time”: that is, Dr Cruickshank had indicated that he had prescribed the Stelazine for paranoia experienced by Mr Maguire over the “long term”.

[19] Dr Cruickshank sent Dr Piaggio Mr Stevenson’s letter of December 1989, his 10 January 1990 response, Department of Transport evaluations of work performance and driving ability, and a report of Dr Freed dated 10 December 1990.  Dr Freed, a psychiatrist who is also a neurologist by training, reported clinical indications of some organic cerebral loss and hypomania. 

[20] Dr Piaggio also received discharge summaries relating to a couple of the times Mr Maguire had spent at the Barrett Centre.

[21] The first, issued in November 1990, mentioned an 11 day attendance.  According to the report, Mrs Maguire had spoken of deterioration in Mr Maguire’s behaviour over the previous three months, following the loss of his job.  Mr Maguire felt persecuted by “a group of influential people”.  “He also believed he was being persecuted by the dishwasher”. 

[22] The report mentioned that a provisional diagnosis had been made on admission of “Paranoid Psychosis? Schizophreniform in nature”. The different diagnosis of “Delusional Disorder” was considered. Mr Maguire settled “only relatively during his time in hospital”. He “continued to experience his delusional beliefs but was less troubled by them”. 

[23] The discharge summary following in-patient treatment in 1994 includes reference to the job loss four years earlier, which Mr Maguire felt was “engineered and unfair”.  It mentions that his wife had won a dishwasher and that family members contracted giardia soon afterwards.  The report continues:

 

“He blamed the illness on the dishwasher and on Kerry Packer (the owner of the New Idea who had organised the competition).  He admitted to having struck his wife several times in the last three to four weeks and also complained the number of anxiety symptoms such as palpitations which he attributed to his wife putting poison in his food and to his mother and wife plotting against him.”

[24] A diagnosis of “delusional disorder (paranoid type)” was made. Mr Maguire was discharged in early March 1994, with follow up arrangements for continuing treatment at the Ipswich Community Psychiatry Clinic.

More psychiatric interventions

[25] In later years, there were other admissions to psychiatric facilities.

[26] Dr Piaggio continued to treat Mr Maguire.

The critical report

[27] In September 2001, WorkCover asked Dr Piaggio for a clinical summary in connection with Mr Maguire’s claim to reassess any permanent damage he may have sustained as a result of work-related injuries in June 1990.  Dr Piaggio was asked to address, among other things, diagnosis, medical history, examination findings, investigations, treatment, Mr Maguire’s condition, the relationship between that condition and a work-related event in June 1990, and prognosis.  The letter enclosed an authority from Mr Maguire to disclose the requested information. 

[28] Dr Piaggio’s letter of 18 October 2001 to WorkCover said:

 

“I first saw this man in July, 1995.  He was referred by his local doctor, Dr. Simon Lawton, with ‘a paranoid disorder’ and a history of being treated with Haldol, Depixol and Chlorpromazine.

 

I understand he had been admitted to the Barrett Centre in November to December, 1990, February to March, 1994, and June, 1995.  In May, 2000, he was admitted to the Mental Health Unit at Ipswich Hospital.

 

He told me in 1995 that he was first put on Stelazine by his G.P. at the time, Dr Cruikshank, for the agitation and consequent stomach upset he had with night shift.

 

Between 1990 and 1994 he had contact with the Ipswich Community Psychiatry Service (later called the Integrated Mental Health Service).

 

The summary of his November, 1990, admission reported that his behaviour deteriorated ‘following the loss of job at the Main Roads Department’.  They say (he) ‘felt persecuted by a group of influential people whom he believed were responsible for his retrenchment’. He had been violent.  A provisional diagnosis of “Paranoid Psychosis? Schizophreniform in nature” was made, with a differential diagnosis of ‘Delusional Disorder’.

 

This man also saw Dr. Alan Freed, psychiatrist, in December, 1990, after his discharge from the Barrett Centre, who thought there were both clinical signs of some organic cerebral loss and of hypomania.  These would presumably have affected his work performance if present over the previous twelve months.

 

In 1994 the diagnosis of Delusional disorder (paranoid type) was made. At this admission, together with the paranoid belief about the reason for the loss of his job in 1990, was the belief that his wife was poisoning him.

 

The diagnosis in 2000 was ‘Schizophreniform Psychosis’.  His delusional beliefs involved his wife again, but also the greyhound and horse racing industries.

 

The reason for most of his admissions, from the 1994 admission, is that he would stop his medication. I understand that Dr. Cruickshank had reduced his medication – Stelazine – in January, 1990, because this man’s supervisors were concerned that his behaviour at the time was related to his medication.  It is reasonable to assume that the 1990 admission was also due to not being ‘protected’ with anti-psychotic medication.

 

His wife reported at the first interview with me that the paranoid symptoms started in 1988 when this man’s job changed to being part of a mobile traffic inspection unit.  It was at that time there began to be complaints about this man’s driving by people he had thought were ‘friends’ of his.  However there were ‘strange ideas’ probably as far back as 1986, when he attributed chocolate icecream as the cause of his son’s ‘bad eyes’.  Dr. Cruickshank, in a telephone conversation, indicated that the use of Stelazine was more for paranoia than the stomach upset this man was told it was for (to help keep him compliant with the medication). (It would have also settled his stomach if that was related to his agitation).

 

He was started on Zyprexa 10 mg. eighteen months ago. In July he reported he was still taking it.  Compliance with John will always need to be monitored. 

 

I have enclosed a copy of my July, 1995 letter for your information.

 

John probably does not remember that I have as much information about him as I have.  He knows that to obtain the script for Zyprexa the diagnosis of Schizophrenia has to be nominated.  He does not have a lot of insight into his illness, so he may choose to believe that he gets this medication for other reasons. 

 

This man does have a psychotic illness of a paranoid type, which is controlled by medication. Whether the illness is Schizophreniform, Delusional Disorder (paranoid type), Schizoaffective Disorder or Schizophrenia, this man has had symptoms of it since at least 1990 and probably earlier.  This illness is a chronic illness.  It is permanent and he is no longer capable of working.”

Tribunal hearing and determination

[29] The General Medical Assessment Tribunal – Psychiatric convened on 26 April, 2002 to assess the claim for permanent disability.  The Tribunal consisted of three medical practitioners, presumably at least a majority of them psychiatrists.  Mr Maguire was represented by a barrister instructed by a solicitor. 

[30] Mr Maguire was interviewed by the Tribunal and provided information to it.

[31] The Tribunal’s reasons confirm that the information taken into consideration in the decision-making also included these medical reports: 

Doctor Speciality Report date
Dr G Cruickshank General Practitioner 10 January 1990
Dr J Clarke Psychiatrist 2 April 1991
File review External Medical Officer 7 August 1991
Dr T Stedman Psychiatrist 2 March 1994
Dr C Wareing Psychiatrist 8 April 1994
Dr C Wareing Psychiatrist 6 May 1994
Dr C Wareing Psychiatrist 20 May 1994
Dr C Wareing Psychiatrist 29 June 1994
Dr K Piaggio Psychiatrist 11 July 1995
Dr S Lawton General Practitioner 2 May 2000
Dr Kirkup Psychiatrist 12 May 2000
Intern   16 May 2000
Dr K Piaggio Psychiatrist 8 June 2000
Dr S Murphy Psychiatrist 24 September 2001
Dr K Piaggio Psychiatrist 18 October 2001

[32] The Tribunal’s reasons for decision are:

 

“The Tribunal notes that Mr Maguire had a significant past history of psychiatric illness prior to the onset of his work related conflicts.  He had been employed between 1973 and 1988 as a weighbridge check-in officer.  In November of 1988 the weighbridge apparently shut down and thereafter his job was that of a mobile transport inspector.

 

Following the change in his job status there arose a number of conflicts between Mr Maguire and some of his work colleagues.  This period of work related conflict led to a deterioration in his psychological symptoms.  Changes in his medication at that time may also have aggravated some of the problems. 

 

The Tribunal notes that since Mr Maguire resigned from the Transport Department in June 1990 his various psychiatric problems have continued.  He remains under the care of a treating psychiatrist.

 

Mr Maguire continues to take the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. 

 

Mr Maguire continues to have a range of psychological symptoms consistent with a diagnosis Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia. 

 

The Tribunal’s view is that his chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia is due primarily to underlying constitutional factors.  The aggravation of his psychological problems related to work factors has now ceased.”

[33] The Tribunal accepted that an “underlying pre-existing psychiatric condition was temporarily aggravated by work-related conflicts”.  On this basis, it was found that there was no permanent disability from the “injury” of June 1990.

Complaint to Dr Piaggio

[34] In June 2002, Mr and Mrs Maguire saw Dr Piaggio again. They felt that his October 2001 report to WorkCover had not presented the situation accurately. In particular, they thought that the references to problems before 1988 “ruins their case”, as Dr Piaggio’s contemporaneous note records the complaints.  Dr Piaggio said that he was willing to write another letter amplifying, but not changing, the views expressed in his report. Dr Piaggio drafted, and read out to Mr and Mrs Maguire, this letter to WorkCover dated 3 June 2002:

 

“I have been asked to clarify my report on October, 2001.

 

There has been some dispute about the history I have obtained about his man before I saw him in 1995.

 

Both he and his wife came to his regular appointment today with copies of my letter after I first saw John in July, 1995, and of my letter to WorkCover about his claim, written in October, 2001.

 

They dispute the fact that there was any paranoid illness before 1989.  They explain that the ‘bad eyes’ in their son was an allergic type reaction to chocolate icecream that he has not had before or since.  They are surprised with the information I had that their doctor, Dr. Cruickshank, who they saw before 1990, had prescribed Stelazine more for paranoid ideas than for stomach upset.  My information did not clarify when Dr. Cruickshank thought paranoid symptoms were present.  John says that doctors who knew him at the time would not have agreed with any comment about paranoid ideas.  His wife says he did not have paranoid ideas. 

 

I had not seen him at these earlier times, so I do not have first hand information.  I have had to rely, in 2001, on what I have written in my chart about the collateral information I have obtained.  I would recommend that information is obtained from original sources for these earlier times.

 

I would state that from an historical point of view, it is significant that there is evidence of major decompensation following the work issues of 1988-89-90.

 

Late onset paranoid illness of the Schizophrenic type will usually present after a major stress.  Even if there were prodromal symptoms before that time, it usually takes a significant stress to precipitate the more florid forms of the illness. 

 

It is my opinion that the work changes and the difficulties with the interpersonal relationships at the time in question would have been the significant stresses to tip him into his more florid state that led to hospital admissions.  Whether this is an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or the absolute beginning of his illness is probably irrelevant since the work stress still played a significant part in the development of his illness we see now.

 

I hope this information helps to clarify my reports and letters.”

Negligence?

[35] Assuming, without deciding, that the plaintiff owed Mr Maguire a duty to exercise reasonable care to report accurately to WorkCover on the facts and concerning his opinions pertinent to the worker’s compensation claim, the central issues appear to be whether Mr Maguire has proved that (i) the October 2001 report evidences a departure from the standard of care reasonably to have been expected of Dr Piaggio; and, if so, (ii) such a breach of duty significantly contributed to the Tribunal’s rejection of the claim.

[36] Mr Maguire maintains that information in Dr Piaggio’s report concerning symptoms and treatment before 1990 was inaccurate. And he alleges that the material he claims was erroneously stated in that report significantly contributed to the rejection of the application to reopen the 1991 determination.

Not adverting to Dr Cruickshank’s letter

[37] One complaint is that Dr Piaggio’s report ignored the fact that, in his letter to Mr Stevenson, Dr Cruickshank had stated that the Stelazine had been prescribed for “nervous dyspepsia”. The October 2001 report, however, does record that Mr Maguire had said that Dr Cruickshank had prescribed the Stelazine for “agitation and consequent stomach upset”. It also mentions that Dr Cruickshank had indicated that Mr Maguire had been told that the Stelazine was for stomach upset rather than mental illness “to help keep him compliant with the medication”.

[38] Dr Piaggio did not overlook Dr Cruickshank’s 1990 letter. He had Dr Cruickshank’s letter to hand, and familiarized himself with it, when composing his report.

[39] Dr Piaggio did not detect an inconsistency between the letter – in particular, the reference to “nervous dyspepsia” – and what Dr Cruickshank had told him in 1995. A combination of factors probably influenced that perception, including that doctors did prescribe Stelazine to treat paranoia; stress such as that Mr Maguire experienced at work does not cause schizophrenia, although it can expose florid manifestations of the illness; and shortly after ceasing work, with a diagnosis consistent with paranoid symptoms, Mr Maguire was admitted to a psychiatric facility.

[40] In any event, the Tribunal’s reasons “confirm” that it took Dr Cruickshank’s letter into consideration in rejecting the attempt to reopen the claim. So it cannot have mattered to the outcome that Dr Piaggio did not explicitly refer to the letter in his report.

Stelazine and “bad eyes”

[41] The complaints about allegedly influential misinformation concern two references in the report: “strange ideas” held as far back as 1986, when the boy’s “bad eyes” were attributed to eating chocolate ice-cream; and the information from Dr Cruickshank that the Stelazine was more for paranoia than a stomach complaint.

[42] Mr Maguire contends, it seems, that, acting reasonably and with due regard to his patient’s interests, Dr Piaggio should have spoken to him before despatching the report to WorkCover. In that event, Mr Maguire would have explained that, much as Dr Piaggio put it in his June 2002 clarification, his son’s “bad eyes” were an allergic reaction to eating the ice-cream, and that the Stelazine had been prescribed for a physical, not mental, condition. On Mr Maguire’s case, Dr Piaggio’s report would then not have included what appeared after “were ‘friends’ of his” in the paragraph beginning “His wife reported …”.

Responsibility to check?

[43] Should Dr Piaggio have discussed the contents of his report with Mr Maguire before sending it to WorkCover?

[44] Dr Piaggio was not asked, and did not say, why he did not discuss with Mr Maguire what he intended to report. And no practitioner has testified about either general medical practice in this regard or whether, in the particular circumstances of this case, a treating psychiatrist providing such a report should have checked its contents with the patient. This litigation has to be decided without such assistance.[3]

[45] On Mr Maguire’s case, it is self-evident that he ought to have been consulted about the report. This, however, is by no means obvious.

[46] Dr Piaggio already had a deal of information about Mr Maguire. It is not shown that that material contained inconsistencies that merited further investigation with Mr Maguire[4] or that for some other reason checking with him would have been a prudent precaution to reduce the risk of error in reporting.

[47] By October 2001, Mr Maguire had been mentally ill for more than a decade. He had exhibited symptoms of paranoia. He had been delusional. He laboured under a pronounced propensity to misinterpret things, as he still does.

[48] In the circumstances, it is not shown that Dr Piaggio should have discussed his report with Mr Maguire before sending it to WorkCover, which means that the case Mr Maguire propounds fails.

Causation

[49] But even if Dr Piaggio should first have spoken to Mr Maguire about the report, what difference might that have made to the outcome in the Tribunal?

[50] Dr Piaggio’s report accurately stated substantially what Dr Cruickshank had told him in 1995.[5] His contemporaneous note supports this – especially by its reference to “long term paranoia”. And Dr Cruickshank was asked whether he had told Dr Piaggio that the Stelazine had been prescribed “more for paranoia than for the stomach upset that he had been told it was for”. He testified: “I have a recollection that I conveyed information similar to that”.

[51] Dr Piaggio had no sufficient reason to doubt the reliability of Dr Cruickshank’s recollection.[6] So he could scarcely have withheld from WorkCover what Dr Cruickshank had told him. He will have realized that his report – that of the treating specialist for more than six years – could be important to the Tribunal in making its decision. The information about psychiatric symptoms before the troubles at work supervened was potentially material, depending on the view the Tribunal took of it in the light of other information available to it. And Dr Piaggio could not responsibly have sent WorkCover a report which, on seemingly reliable information in his possession, might mislead the Tribunal, if only by what was left unsaid.[7] Nor could Dr Piaggio have been expected to ignore the “bad eyes” incident if, as he understood what the Maguires had told him in 1995, Mr Maguire had entertained “strange ideas” about that episode at the time it occurred in 1986.

[52] Mr Maguire’s case appears to be that his versions of events – in particular, the “bad eyes” being attributable to an allergic reaction; the Stelazine having been prescribed for physical symptoms; and that the doctors who treated him in the 1980s would not have agreed that he had paranoia in those days – should have been substituted for what Dr Piaggio wrote on those topics. But a duty to exercise reasonable care to report accurately would not have required that.

[53] Had he spoken to Mr Maguire, what might reasonably have been expected of Dr Piaggio in the circumstances is, I suppose, that his report would have included the observations on the issues that were later expressed in the June 2002 clarification:[8] that (i) the “bad eyes” were an allergic reaction;[9] (ii) in 2001, Mrs Maguire was saying that her husband had not had paranoid ideas before 1990; and (iii) Mr Maguire maintained that doctors who knew him in the 1980s would not have agreed that he had experienced paranoid ideas before the difficulties at work in the months before he resigned his job.

[54] If those clarifications had been included in the report, might that have made a difference to the Tribunal’s determination? For unless the revised report which[10] ought to have been sent to WorkCover would[11] have resulted in an outcome favourable to Mr Maguire, economic loss is not proved.

No loss proved

[55] Mr Maguire has not established that the addition of the 2002 clarifications to the October 2001 report would have resulted in a different determination.

[56] For one thing, the extent to which Dr Piaggio’s report was influential in the Tribunal’s decision is not apparent.

[57] Of the medical evidence considered by the Tribunal, Dr Cruickshank’s 10 January 1990 letter, the 1994 discharge report of Dr Stedman, Dr Piaggio’s letter of 11 July 1995 and his report of October 2001 are in evidence.  So also is the 2 April 1991 report of Dr Janine Clarke, in which she reported that her interview with Mr Maguire on 5 March 1991 did not reveal “any obvious psychiatric illness”. Otherwise, the information placed before the Tribunal in 2002 is not in evidence. Yet the Tribunal’s reasons confirm that several other medical reports were taken into account. One or more may have been critical to the decision to reject the attempt to reopen the claim. Moreover, the Tribunal examined Mr Maguire. There is no evidence of what he told the three doctors. And nothing reveals the extent to which the interview mattered to the determination.

[58] Secondly, if the 2002 clarifications had been added, it would have been obvious that they reflected Dr Piaggio’s understanding of assertions by Mr and Mrs Maguire made at a time when the old claim was being resuscitated. More importantly, the reliability of anything Mr Maguire had said would inevitably have been assessed having regard to his demonstrable tendency to misinterpret things.

[59] Mr Maguire, therefore, has not proved that the October 2001 report caused him economic loss. On this ground also, the claim against Dr Piaggio fails.[12]

Disposition

[60] Both claims are dismissed.

Footnotes

[1] Her precise words as Dr Piaggio wrote them down.

[2] Dr Piaggio was not told when Mr Maguire first experienced this delusion. There is no evidence that he came to this view before June 1990.

[3] Neither in evidence nor in addresses was there any reference to cases, commentaries or medical literature bearing on the responsibilities of a treating medical practitioner in supplying a report for use in a tribunal assessing a claim for compensation.

[4] Mr Maguire maintains that he would, if asked, have told Dr Piaggio that the Stelazine was for physical symptoms. But Mr Maguire had told Dr Piaggio that in 1995.

[5] Dr Cruickshank believed at the time that this recollection stated the true position. Unfortunately, Dr Cruickshank’s memory had failed him. The “nervous dyspepsia” for which he treated Mr Maguire with Stelazine had a significant anxiety component. But Dr Cruickshank misinformed Dr Piaggio when he said that Mr Maguire, when under his care years earlier, had been treated for paranoid symptoms.

[6] See para [39].

[7] Cf Woolcock Street Investments Pty Ltd v CDG Pty Ltd (2004) 216 CLR 515, 531 [24].

[8] Mr Maguire does not complain about the June 2002 clarification. And as Dr Piaggio was willing to include the things he wrote in that clarification, it may safely be inferred that he would have been content to say the same things in October.

[9] Perhaps Dr Piaggio might have omitted the reference to the “bad eyes” incident if, on checking with Mr Maguire, he were persuaded that in 1995 the Maguires had thought they were speaking of an allergic reaction and not about what Mrs Maguire regarded as “strange ideas” her husband had entertained in 1986. However, Dr Piaggio had contemporaneous notes, made more than six years earlier, which supported what he reported in October 2001 about Mr Maguire’s view in 1986 about the bad eyes incident.

[10] It may be assumed.

[11] More probably than not: cf Hegarty v Queensland Ambulance Service [2007] QCA 366, [101]; Lewis v Hillhouse [2005] QCA 316, [22]-[26].

[12] Incidentally, I prefer Dr Piaggio’s evidence to that of Mr Maguire. For one thing, Dr Piaggio’s recollection was consistent with his contemporaneous notes. And Mr Maguire misinterprets things.

Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    Maguire v Cruickshank & Anor

  • Shortened Case Name:

    Maguire v Cruickshank

  • MNC:

    [2008] QSC 84

  • Court:

    QSC

  • Judge(s):

    Byrne SJA

  • Date:

    08 May 2008

Litigation History

No Litigation History

Appeal Status

No Status