Australia could be about to have the tidiest gyms in the world following a decision by a NSW court to award $550 000 in compensation to a woman who damaged her back while putting away other people’s weights.
The women, Jacqueline Powell, was a member of the New Dimensions Health and Fitness Centre in Sydney when she decided to clear away equipment left by other club members so that she could train properly.
Equipment left strewn around the floor
The court heard that various items were in an untidy mess. It was while Powell, who was 42 at the time, was putting away a 25kg weight that she injured her back.
Her injury had caused immediate “immense and intense pain” and she subsequently underwent four surgeries on the protruding disk in her back, but it was still a struggle to get through a normal day.
Exercise area should have been cleared
In his judgement, Judge Leonard Levy ruled that the gym was negligent for not clearing the exercise area after other users had left equipment in a mess.
“On her arrival at the weights area of the premises she found that she was confronted with a large quantity of gym equipment that had been left strewn untidily on the floor by previous patrons,” he said.
“Those circumstances were in plain contravention of the terms of membership of the gymnasium which required that it was the responsibility of users of equipment to put the equipment away after use.”
Gym argued that half the blame was hers
In its defence, the New Dimensions Health and Fitness Centre argued that Powell should accept half the blame and share the costs associated with the injury. It also submitted footage taken by a private detective which showed Powell going about daily tasks, including carrying groceries.
But both were rejected by Judge Levy.” Viewed in the context of the plaintiff’s oral evidence, the occasional movements of the plaintiff, as seen in that footage, as seized upon by the defendant, were, in my view, of benign significance,” he stated.
The total figure of $551 097.62 was reached to compensate Powell for out-of-pocket expenses, future treatment, wage compensation and assistance around her home.