In the case of ALDI Foods Pty Ltd v Young  NSWCA 109 the plaintiff brought proceedings against Aldi Supermarket in the NSW District Court after the plaintiff stepped or tripped over a Pallet Jack used by the employee of Aldi to restock display boxes with strawberries.
The plaintiff argued that Aldi breached their duty of care by placing the Pallet Jack in the middle of the aisle, failing to warn of its presence and failing to barricade the Pallet Jack. Aldi argued that they did not breach a duty of care under the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) because they did not have a duty to warn the plaintiff when the risk was so obvious. The plaintiff also had pre-existing injuries.
The majority held “the [defendant] ought reasonably to have anticipated that customers would not always be attentive to their own safety or immediately conscious of what was going on around them.” They also held that the prongs of the Pallet Jack represented a hidden danger and not an obvious risk. The dissenting Judge however, held that the exposed prongs would have been obvious to a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position and that the incident occurred because the plaintiff was failing to exercise their own safety.
The case highlights that the Court will have an expectation that a person will exercise reasonable care for their own safety. However, this must be measured with the responsibility of the occupier who should be aware that customers will not always be attentive when it comes to their own safety. An obvious risk may differ amongst persons and in the event there is a pre-existing medical condition the onus is upon the defendant to determine that the injury was not relevant to the accident in question.
About the Author
Emma Mead is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, accredited by the Law Society of NSW. She is also a National Accreditor Mediator and has a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. She specialises in all personal injury and family law disputes, locally and across New South Wales.