Court dismisses €14,000 claim for slip which left man with asymmetrical arms

Court dismisses plaintiff's assertion that Enemalta had not taken the necessary steps to ensure his safety

Former Enemalta worker Saviour Farrugia had sued his former employer following a workplace incident in 2010, when Farrugia had slipped on some liquid paraffin while removing upholstery from a large truck. The plaintiff, who is a qualified aviation tradesman, grabbed on to the truck door's open window frame to stop his fall and tore his left bicep tendon in the process.

His left arm had been left considerably smaller than his right due to muscle atrophy. Aside from the visible deformity, Farrugia had suffered intermittent pain together with a loss of sensation in the arm since the accident and a significant weakness when compared to his right arm.

Court appointed medical experts quantified his permanent disability at 4%.

The plaintiff blamed the Enemalta corporation, as he felt it had failed to take the necessary precautions to avoid such an incident taking place. He asked the court to order Enemalta to compensate him for the damages he had suffered and the wages he had lost as a result of the accident.

The court, however found for Enemalta.

In a highly researched judgement, making abundant references to case law on the liability of an employer for injuries suffered at the workplace, madame justice Miriam Hayman dismissed Farrugia's case.

The court held that the plaintiff's assertion that the corporation had not taken the necessary steps to ensure his safety had turned out to be “generic conjecture.”

“From the evidence he presented, there is no hint of proof that corroborates his allegations, particularly those relating to the day of the incident. The plaintiff did not present the court with evidence of paraffin spillage in that the area in which he had been working He had been issued with safety shoes which had not been defective. An investigation into the safety shoes provided had likewise concluded that there were no reported defects that somehow contributed this injury to occur.”

Neither had he submitted any evidence that the safety shoes provided by the corporation had been made slippery with oil or paraffin. The court also noted as “significant” the fact that none of the man's work colleagues had mentioned any paraffin on the surface in their testimonies.

The First Hall of the Civil Court, after sifting through the evidence brought before it, held that the incident had been caused by the plaintiff's negligence and could not be attributed to a shortcoming by the corporation. Enemalta had taken all reasonable precautions to provide a safe working environment and had fulfilled its obligations as an employer.