Court dismisses case against Rockingham Wild Encounters

Court dismisses case against Rockingham Wild Encounters

A WOMAN has failed in her bid to sue Rockingham Wild Encounters and its skipper Ian Bryant for negligence.

On September 23, 2012, Louise Carol Lightfoot and a friend went on a dolphin-watching cruise through RWE on their boat 100% Wild.

Mr Bryant was the skipper and took the group, which included Ms Lightfoot and her friend, on the cruise.

On the return journey he navigated through a gap in a reef between John Point and John Ledge.

He deemed it would be a quicker and less bumpy ride for passengers and had safely taken that way many times before.

While travelling through it, a large wave struck the boat causing it to drop back sharply.

The forecast for the day was for a 2-3m swell but it got smaller during the day. It caused Ms Lightfoot to rise out of her seat and land back hard on the seat edge as she did so.

She suffered immediate and excruciating pain and asked for an ambulance, which the skipper called for from a satellite phone on the boat.

This resulted in a serious spinal injury where she was taken to hospital, had surgery and was required to wear a back brace for three months. She suffers ongoing pain and needs assistance for certain tasks and will need further surgery.

At a civil trial in the District Court, Justice Audrey Gillian Braddock found that the skipper and RWE had not been negligent.

She said reasons were because Mr Bryant was familiar with the area and had also used the same route three times the same day prior to the incident and the forecast swell had moderated.

Also as part of paying for and booking the tour, Ms Lightfoot was required to sign a waiver before embarking on the boat trip.

Justice Braddock dismissed her claim for negligence but awarded costs as the medical evidence was not in dispute.

Discharge notes from Royal Perth Hospital stated Ms Lightfoot suffered an L2 burst fracture.

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