LOCAL COUNCIL SUED IN NEGLIGENCE FOLLOWING AIRCRAFT COLLISION WITH FERRIS WHEEL – COX V MID-COAST COUNCIL [2020] NSWSC 1710

A 14-year-old girl has successfully sued a local council after she was injured whilst riding on a Ferris wheel at a local festival when a light aircraft collided with the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel was located on land adjacent to an airstrip that was operated by the local council.

The Pilot also brought a claim in negligence against the Council.

FACTS

At the Old Bar Festival (in Old Bar New South Wales), a pilot of a light aircraft travelled from Taree Airport to the Old Bar Airstrip, which is situated next  to the land on where the Festival was taking place.

While attempting to land the plane, the pilot veered too far to the left and crashed into the Ferris Wheel which the plaintiff was riding on at the time with her brother.

Both the plaintiff and the pilot suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of the crash. The plaintiff, aged 13 at the time of the incident, proceeded to sue both the Pilot and the Mid-Coast Council for damages as a result of negligence, via her tutor.

DECISION

The Supreme Court of New South Wales found that the risk of harm was clearly foreseeable and ought to have been known to the local council. The local council was negligent in the approval of the festival, the location of the Ferris wheel and the operation of the airstrip.

Damages were awarded in the total sum of $1,513,023. The council successfully cross claimed against the pilot, with his contribution assessed at 35%.

The Pilot’s claim against the council, however, was unsuccessful, and the court held that the harm suffered was the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity, as found in s 5L of the Civil Liability Act.

 

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