Blame game over fatal crane collapse

A QUEENSLAND luxury apartment developer has alleged the "incompetence" of a hire company is to blame for the death of a Brisbane photographer and serious injury of his son in a crane accident four years ago.

Tom Dooley Developments Pty Ltd (TDD) has alleged that the erroneous system used by hire company Lincon Logistics Pty Ltd (Lincon) to set up a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) is to blame for the 50m-long telescopic boom freefalling in Newstead on December 14, 2015, court documents state.

When it fell, the MEWP was carrying aerial photographer Christopher Powell, 41, and his son Brendan, now 21, from Clear Mountain, north of Brisbane.

Christopher was killed and Brendan suffered a dislocated right foot, a fractured right wrist, a fractured hip, a fractured lower back, a fractured left arm, a fractured nose and rib.

The pair had been hired by an advertising design company to take aerial photographs of the views potential buyers would have from luxury high-rise apartments due to be built on the empty development site, court documents state.

Brendan Powell is visited in hospital by Serena, a bystander who helped after the accident.
Brendan Powell is visited in hospital by Serena, a bystander who helped after the accident.

 

Brendan Powell on his return home after months in hospital
Brendan Powell on his return home after months in hospital


Details of TDD's claims that Lincon, based in Darra in Brisbane's southwest, was to blame were revealed documents filed in Brisbane Supreme Court as part of Brendan Powell getting the green light to sue TDD, Lincon, graphic designers Binyan Studios 3D visualisation Pty Ltd, and MEWP operator Bradley Sugden, from Mildura in Victoria, for damages.

On November 28, a deputy Supreme Court registrar ordered Brendan Powell be granted leave to sue for damages.

In a letter annexed to an affidavit filed by TDD in the proceedings, TDD's lawyers told Brendan Powell's solicitor, Linda Brangan that they denied they were liable to pay damages to Mr Powell and has asked that the negligence claims against it be withdrawn.

TDD alleges the MEWP operator Bradley Sugden was to blame for failing to use adequate dunnage to spread the load under the MEWP feet.

"The MEWP collapsed because the ground under the rear passenger leg of the MEWP gave way," TDD's lawyers allege in a letter sent to Ms Brangan on December 12, 2018.

"MEWP's could be safety set up on site if done so in a competent manner," TDD's lawyers Carter Newell state in the letter filed in court.

In his notice of claim sent to TDD, and filed in court, Brendan alleges all four defendants were negligent and owed him a duty of care.

Father Chris Powell pictured on the crane shortly before he was killed
Father Chris Powell pictured on the crane shortly before he was killed

Brendan alleges TDD knew about the soft or unstable ground conditions on site and the hazards of setting up a MEWP on such ground conditions, but failed to ensure it was properly set up.

The collapse of the crane-like device occurred on an undeveloped block of land behind the gasworks on Longland st in Newstead.

At the time of the crash, TDD had entered a put-and-call option deed with FKP Commercial Developments Pty Ltd to buy the land, but had not yet exercised the option to purchase the land.

It took Brendan Powell eight months to recover from his injuries, court documents state.

He still has restricted movement in his right foot and ankle, left hip and lower back.

He has difficulty squatting and working in confined spaces, running, moving quickly, changing direction, climbing stairs, lifting and picking up things and driving.

After leaving school in 2016, he began an electrical apprenticeship. He is due to complete it next year, court documents state.

The MEWP collapsed while Brendan and his dad were in a "bucket" about 50m above the ground, and they had been aloft for about 45 minutes, court documents state.

Brendan Powell has also claimed damages through workers' compensation insurer WorkCover, and this is expected to go to a mediated compulsory conference early next year, court documents state.

Christopher Powell's widow Lea has also been given the green light to sue in a separate claim for loss of dependency on behalf of herself and Brendan's two siblings, as well as for psychiatric injury.

The scene of the crane collapse four years ago
The scene of the crane collapse four years ago