Teenage boy’s horror Big W injury leads to lawsuit against the retailer

 Teenage boy’s horror Big W injury leads to lawsuit against the retailer

Toby Dunne, 14, had been shopping with his father’s partner at Big W Caneland Central when the incident occurred. Credit: Supplied

A Queensland teenager is suing Woolworths Group for damages after slicing his ankle on gym equipment inside a Big W store.

Toby Dunne, 14, had been shopping with his father’s partner at the department store at Caneland Central in Mackay on Boxing Day 2019 when he climbed an Elliptical cross trainer that was on display among other exercise equipment.

Court documents allege the area around the cross trainer was “cluttered with another exercise/gymnasium equipment, including a rowing machine” and there “was no sign(s) on or near the cross trainer to state it could not be used by entrants to the store”.

Toby, then 12, started using the cross-trainer when his left foot “struck the uncapped end of the seat rail of the rowing machine”, slicing his Achilles tendon.

He underwent surgery the same day, but Toby and his family allege he continues to suffer pain, stiffness, has limited running tolerance, difficulty ascending and descending steps, stairs, and ladders, reduced squatting capacity, and a loss of range of movement.

It is also alleged Toby has suffered a loss of earning capacity given he intended to become a qualified carpenter and would now have difficulty in performing relevant work duties.

The teen, with his father Brad Dunne acting as litigation guardian, issued Woolworths Group Ltd for $252,005.10 in damages claiming alleged negligence resulted in his personal injuries.

The family alleges Big W failed to take all reasonable precautions for the safety of lawful entrants to the store, keep the store In a safe and suitable state, monitor or remove hazards and direct entrants not to use the exercise equipment.

n a statement to 7NEWS.com.au, Mr. Dunne said his son is an “active kid” who “wanted to play Aussie Rules this year but is worried about the ongoing pain he experiences from his injury”.

“This was an accident waiting to happen because so many exercise machines were crammed into the one area,” he said.

“There were no signs telling people to keep off the equipment and some of the machines had sharp edges without protective covering.

Toby underwent surgery the same day, but he allegedly continues to suffer pain and stiffness. Credit: Supplied

“My friend went back to the store weeks later and found the machines were spaced apart and signage had been put up but it’s too little, too late for Toby.”

General Manager of Shine Lawyers in North Queensland Garreth Turner said the set-up was a “recipe for disaster”.

“Retailers have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their customers and we allege the Woolworths Group fell short on this occasion,” he said.

“If exercise equipment is on display without any signage telling people to keep off, it’s highly likely people will think they’re free to give it a go.

“The fact one of the exercise machines had dangerously sharp edges and was so close to the cross-trainer was a recipe for disaster.”

Big W responds

In a statement to 7NEWS.com.au, a Big W spokesperson said it takes the health and safety of customers and team members “very seriously”.

“Our team members work hard to ensure the safety of all customers while in the store.

“As the matter is now before the courts, we’re unable to comment directly at this time.”

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