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CASE STUDY: O’Connor v Brisbane City Council


In 2007, Mr O’Connor was riding his bicycle along Sinbad Street, Shorncliffe, during the same period of time repairs on the street were underway by the Brisbane City Council.

Mr O’Connor lost control and was thrown onto the roadway injuring his upper back and shoulder. The constant pain meant he required surgery. In spite of this, he continued to struggle with ongoing pain.

Mr O’Connor claims the road surface was scoured, with groves in the bitumen. He claims there was an uneven road surface over the entire area of road work which was uneven, broken and dangerous. Most importantly he claimed there was no signs warning him (or other riders) of the hazard therefore he went about suing the council for negligence.

The Council's records

According to the Council‘s records the roads were being repaired during the time of Mr O’Connor’s fall, but the council denies the road surface was scoured resulting in grooves in the bitumen as Mr O’Connor suggests.

The council also stated the repair works would have been obvious to Mr O’Connor if he was keeping a lookout as to where he was travelling, suggesting the road surface of the adjacent bicycle lane was smooth and outside the boundaries of the repair works.

Court findings

The court found the council records were lacking reference to the base layer or the date the base layer was laid, stating that the council should have sent a crew to remove the hazard and erect signs warning of the dangers. The court also stated the hazard was deemed not obvious to a cyclist.

The repairs were not undertaken to acceptable engineering practises, with no evidence from the council as to its resources or funding limits nor was there any evidence to show its policies in terms of funding of the repair work, leaving the council liable.

Judgement for the plaintiff

Damages awarded to Mr O’Connor include general damages causing the shoulder injury, past and future economic losses due to the intermittent symptoms in the shoulder he will endure causing Mr O’Connor to take periods of time off work.

Judgement for the plaintiff against the Brisbane City Council for $56,011.

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Written by Shine Lawyers on December 5, 2018. Last modified: December 5, 2018.

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