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  1. #1

    Quadriplegic sues over bad mud-jump

    Quadriplegic sues over bad mud-jump
    By Matthew Spencer
    April 03, 2002
    A MAN is suing the organisers and insurers of a NSW north coast "Galah Day" over becoming a quadriplegic after belly-flopping into a mud pit.




    While the nation's political leaders argue over ways to fix the crisis in public liability insurance, 13 lawyers filed into the NSW Supreme Court yesterday to watch gruesome video evidence of William John Sullivan's shallow dive into ankle-deep muddy water.

    Mr Sullivan, 46, injured his spine at the 10th annual Galah Day in the Nambucca Valley in 1991 - a family fun day organised by locals with a BBQ and several events, from volleyball and an egg-and-spoon race to the "mud jump".

    Attempting to describe the mud jump in court yesterday, Mr Sullivan's barrister, Ian Harrison SC, said it involved people launching themselves into a mud-filled ditch with no clear purpose and in varying degrees of stupidity.

    "This activity was sponsored lunacy, really," Mr Harrison said. "The safest approach to this activity would have been not to have it at all."

    Mr Sullivan was the first and only adult to take part in the Galah Day mud jump in 1991, and is suing the event organisers and failed insurance company FAI for general damages and economic loss due to his injury.

    FAI has denied liability for the accident, citing a clause in its public liability policy for the event that states the company does not cover injuries to people participating in any game or contest involving athletic or acrobatic skill.

    At the beginning of the hearing yesterday, NSW Supreme Court master Bryan Malpass had to inquire if FAI was "still afloat" - the company, acquired by collapsed insurer HIH, is in liquidation - and then expressed bewilderment at the policy clause.

    "It's like the policy you have when you don't have a policy," Master Malpass said.

    The hearing will move to a bigger court today to accommodate all the lawyers involved.

    Mr Sullivan has two barristers and three solicitors, while eight more legal brains are on hand to represent the defendants, who include the organisers and FAI.

    A video of the accident played in court showed Mr Sullivan lying prone in the muddy puddle after being encouraged to jump by a man commentating on proceedings over a loudspeaker.

    After the botched dive he lay face-down in the water for 15 seconds before people in the crowd realised he wasn't playing possum.

    "I just remember starting my run-up and the next recollection I have is an almighty thump and seeing stars," he told the court.

    After spending three months in the spinal unit at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, Mr Sullivan regained the use of his legs and can now walk, but he is regarded as an incomplete quadriplegic who will be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years.

    He graduated with a tertiary business degree and had several management and clerical jobs in Sydney, before settling on the NSW north coast in 1987 with his wife and son to start a small business and run a 16-hectare Nambucca Valley farm.

  2. #2

    I'm confused...

    After spending three months in the spinal unit at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, Mr Sullivan regained the use of his legs and can now walk, but he is regarded as an incomplete quadriplegic who will be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years.
    If this guy can walk then why will he be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years?

    Anyone?

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Originally posted by Debbie7:

    Quote: "After spending three months in the spinal unit at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, Mr Sullivan regained the use of his legs and can now walk, but he is regarded as an incomplete quadriplegic who will be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years."

    If this guy can walk then why will he be confined to a wheelchair within 10 years?

    Anyone?
    Because he will probably be to fat and out of shape? Perhaps, folks out in Nambucca Valley are suppose to roll over and die after an SCI?

    Actually, the defense always paints the darkest scenario when presenting a claim.

    Noel

  4. #4

    Shame on him

    Not only is this guy an idiot but if he can walk he should be ashamed of himself for suing. The judge should rule against him and make him donate his time as a caregiver.

    Deb

  5. #5
    In Australia, they have a different system for evaluating the payout of medical insurance for care of spinal cord injury. After a traffic accident, for example, a government agency negotiates with the patient and his/her lawyers for a lump sum payment that would cover the anticipated lifetime costs of the condition. This kind of situation and the enormous sums of money involved have the legal profession deeply involved in defining and redefining prognosis and likely future costs of an injury. I wonder if the court accepted the judgement that somebody who has recovered walking will become paralyzed again in 10 years, the basis of this judgement, and anticipated costs of this theoretical development. By the way, quadriplegic is the wrong word to use since the man is walking.

    Wise.

  6. #6

    "I rise to a point of order"... (yes, that is another 'walkism')

    actually, several points...

    Only with "post polio" disorder does one recover and then later fall back into wheelchair dependency... at least that is the only one I know of.

    This correlates well with my theory that over 90% of all SCI were failed IQ contests. (me included)

    Such displayes of idiocy do not do the real vistims of SCI any good, especially when the self-pronounced victim can walk. Reminds me of the blue handicap parking stickers, where damn near anyone can say, "I think I will get myself one of them thar 'up close to the front door' parking permits.

  7. #7

    What is correct?

    Originally posted by Wise Young:

    By the way, quadriplegic is the wrong word to use since the man is walking.

    Wise.
    Out of curiousity, what is the correct definition. I thought "quadriplegic" meant that there were impairments in all four limbs. You can be walking and still be impaired. Is "walking quad" not a correct term?

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Quadriperetic? And maybe he has spinal malaccia?

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