G-MW sued by former employee

By Country News

A former Goulburn-Murray Water employee has won permission from the courts to sue the water corporation for injuries resulting from sun exposure during his employment.

The former senior manager, David Kent, had requested compensation for damages but his claim was rejected by the corporation because of the expiration of time between when he became aware of the injury and when he lodged his claim.

Mr Kent has told the court he suffers from a serious illness resulting from a melanoma.

According to court documents, G-MW did not contest that employment caused the spread of Mr Kent’s melanoma.

Mr Kent, 59, told the court he worked with the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission as a relieving water bailiff from 1981 at Pyramid Hill and spent a large amount of time outside at a time when there was little sun protection or concern about sun exposure.

Up until about the mid-1990s, Mr Kent worked for about an hour twice a week in the office, with the balance of his time being outdoor work, including driving to visit farms and irrigation equipment.

In 1990, the plaintiff discovered a mole on the right side of his jaw.

It was removed locally and, about five days later, he was referred to Peter McCallum Cancer Centre for investigation which subsequently classified the mole as a melanoma.

Mr Kent went on to work for NVIRP, which was implementing the Foodbowl Modernisation project, and then moved back to G-MW with the Connections project.

In 2012, Mr Kent suffered a serious illness and had surgery to remove a brain tumour.

He was told by his treating neurosurgeon the tumour was directly related to the melanoma removed in 1990. He had two further tumours removed.

Mr Kent was made redundant in 2014.

After a two-day hearing at Shepparton County Court in November, judge K. L. Bourke found that Mr Kent was permitted to commence a proceeding to recover damages for injuries he had suffered.

Appearing for Mr Kent were T. S. Monti QC, with R. N. Morrow, and appearing for G-MW were W. R. Middleton QC, with S. D. Martin.

G-MW said it did not comment on individual compensation claims for privacy reasons, and the corporation did not have any other pending claims for sun damage.

‘‘Over the years G-MW has adopted increasingly stringent personal protection equipment and sun safety practices, in keeping with other government organisations and industries,’’ a spokesperson said.