A former public servant has been awarded more than $300,000 in damages after a legal battle that kept the cancer patient in limbo for more than six years.
Martin Guy, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, sued the Commonwealth of Australia for negligently excluding him from a lucrative superannuation scheme for more than a decade.
Justice Richard Refshauge awarded the $303,582 payout on Thursday, bringing an end to the legal battle that began in the ACT Supreme Court in late 2006.
Speaking to Fairfax Media from hospital, the 73-year-old retiree said he did not know how long he had left to live, but was happy to see the matter finalized.
“Whatever happens, this will help my family,” he said.
“It was a good judgement at the end of the day. I’m glad it’s all over now, I’m glad it’s finished with. It’s been a hard slog.”
The court heard the Queanbeyan man worked for the Department of Administrative Services for about 16 years but was initially told he could not join the scheme as a “temporary blue collar worker”. A personnel manager later denied using the term when discussing superannuation with the then forklift driver.
More than a decade later, in 1996, Mr Guy was told he was in fact eligible.
Mr Guy’s case was one of six heard in the ACT Supreme Court in 2009 and 2010, but his legal team from Snedden Hall and Gallop had the matter re-listed in July last year as his health deteriorated.
Justice Refshauge entered a judgement on December 2012, six years to the day since the proceedings commenced, stating he was satisfied that negligent misstatements had been made to him and that he had relied on them “to his loss and detriment”.
On Thursday, he ordered the Commonwealth to pay Mr Guy $303,582 in damages, adding that he would be able to seek further damages should the sum be subject to tax.
Snedden Hall and Gallop managing director Richard Faulks said that although the result for Mr Guy was encouraging, five more former public servants were still awaiting judgment.
I’m glad it’s finished with. It’s been a hard slog.
“Many of these potential claimants are elderly or ill, and find the delays and stress associated with the litigation process are daunting,” he said.
Justice Refshauge told the court he did not know when the remaining judgements would be ready.