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Hurt on duty, police officers

Lanham v Comm’r Police [2009] NSWDC 89. Hungerford ADCJ. 22.05.09.

The officer had attended a series of horrifying incidents, as well as other discrete shocks and falls in his 20 years’ service before retiring with psychological and low back injuries in mid-2007.

In determinations in March, April and May 2008, the Police Superannuation Advisory Committee, delegate of the SAS Trustee Corporation, determined according to Police Regulation (Superannuation) Act 1906 s 10B, that work caused only the officer’s low back injury, although that and the psychological injury were each incapacitating.

Hungerford ADCJ noted a finding of duty causation would advantage the former senior constable’s pension claim to 85% salary, from 72.75%.

“The sole issue in this case is thus the causation of the specified infirmity of chronic post traumatic stress disorder, that is, whether or not it was duty-related, as arising out of or in the course of employment. In respect of that infirmity, the Court is bound by the STC certificate of incapacity issued on 27 March 2008 that the plaintiff was incapable of discharging his duties as a police officer as a consequence of such infirmity: see Saad v Comm’r Police (1995) 12 NSWCCR 70 at 75, and Murray v Comm’r Police [2004] NSWCA 365; (2004) 2 DDCR 31 at 40 in para 29.” [4]

His Honour noted a 1987 WCA s 11A defence abandoned, detailed facts, and reviewed psychiatric evidence, from treater Dr Butler, and Drs Brian Potter, Peter Klug and Kathryn Lovric, psychologist Mr Kilpatrick, and noted DSM-IV.

“Counsel referred to the plaintiff’s evidence by reference to the events as considered by the medical practitioners and diminished the value of Dr Lovric’s opinion because she did not accept the diagnosis of chronic post traumatic stress disorder so that her comments about the causation of any condition were of little utility – this submission was well made,” Hungerford ADCJ said infra [31]. The evidence satisfied 1987 WCA ss 4 and 15(a)(i).

Delegate decision substituted with finding of hurt on duty, costs.

P: Mr TM Ower, inst Walter Madden Jenkins. D: Mr G Levick, inst Rankin Nathan.

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