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Chockstone Forum - Accidents & Injuries

Report Accidents and Injuries

 Page 1 of 7. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60 | 61 to 80 | 81 to 100 | 101 to 120 | 121 to 127
Author
QUT and affiliates sued for $8m Kangaroo Point
Martym
17-May-2017
10:01:20 AM
CourierMail - Queensland University Technology sued for $8Mil - Abseiling/Belayer error leads to paraplegic.
Haven't found anything on Chocky about this, so I thought I'd post - you might get stuck by the paywall - so I added some excerpts:

A UNIVERSITY student who was left a paraplegic after falling from the top of Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point cliffs during an organised rock climb is suing for $8 million.

Isaac Schuurmans-Stekhoven, 22, was injured while climbing with other members of Queensland University of Technology Cliffhangers Rock Climbing Club on May 5, 2014.

Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven was among a group of five club members, including the senior climber, who was the belayer for his climb, according to his Supreme Court claim. A belayer is a person who controls the safety rope for a climber.

Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven, then a full-time university student, had made the 18m climb called Prickles at Kangaroo Point.

It is alleged upon reaching the anchors at the top of the climb, he began to “clean the climb’’, the belayer went off belay and Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven was left unattended.

Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven fell from the peak, suffering a severe cervical injury resulting in loss of function in his lower limbs and reduced power in his upper limbs, the claim says.
Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven spent the next eight months in Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven’s parents, William and Viviana Schuurmans-Stekhoven, provide him with care and assistance, including cleaning, meal preparation, shopping, laundry, transport, showering and dressing, the claim says.

He will require medical and nursing care for the rest of his life.

Mr Schuurmans-Stekhoven, an undergraduate in software engineering, is continuing his studies, but has had to defer until second semester because of health.

The claim is against QUT, Queensland University of Technology Guild and the QUT Cliffhangers Rock Climbing Club.

He claims the club organised and controlled the rock climbing activity that resulted in his injury and was responsible for providing him with adequate roped climbing training.

It is also claimed the defendants were vicariously liable for the conduct of the belayer. The defendants are yet to respond to the claim.
PThomson
17-May-2017
10:07:25 AM
This could be problematic for the Uni, but not so relevant to we amateurs (though it is an interesting case study).

Normally a "high risk activity" like climbing has no liability between amateurs because the risks are "so fundamentally obvious" (the reason why no Negligence claim between amateurs has ever succeeded in Australia, pertaining to adventure sport), however an organised Uni outing (especially with an experienced individual taking on the role of "guide") has a particular duty of care as an advising authority.

I think the Uni will probably settle this one.

Thanks for sharing Martym.

Regards,

- Paul
Sandym
17-May-2017
4:50:32 PM
Is a volunteer leader in a climbing club, like in this instance, really acting as a guide? I wonder if the "experienced" climber was just some young uni student, not much different from anyone else. I realise that in these instances, the injured party is going to go for $$ where-ever they can as lost earnings and the cost of life-time care pretty much necessitates it, but it always seems a bad omen for adventure sports like climbing.

JamesMc
17-May-2017
8:02:57 PM
I'm guessing he'll have trouble finding another belayer next time he climbs. Better take up soloing or bouldering,

rodw
17-May-2017
8:28:23 PM
Considering hes a paraplegic I doubt that will be an issue
rightarmbad
18-May-2017
2:49:42 AM
For the senior member to take him off belay he must have already asked to be taken off belay himself to clean and rap or been asked if he still requires a belay and he must have answered no.
If there was a miscommunication it is simply up to the person on the rock to not take himself off safety, that is his own responsibility, nobody else's.
If he has advanced to the point of cleaning a belay then he must surely have been taught earlier about communication, his own responsibilities and the need to be honest about his own abilities.
Once you reach the anchors, there is only one person that can hurt you and that is yourself.

Unless there was a wrongly threaded Gri Gri and the most senior member also let go of the brake rope, the fault lies with th climber.

If communication is a problem, clean and rap, the belayer plays no part in your own safety.
If you have forgotten how to do the procedure, just stay on safety and wait for help.
Rawpowa!
18-May-2017
10:45:07 AM
I imagine the club has an insurance policy that will pay for any liability. The way I understand the policies is that they cover club members involved in club trips, to get money out of the insurance policy you gave to sue the club members. It will be interesting to see the outcome.
One Day Hero
18-May-2017
11:03:49 AM
On 18/05/2017 rightarmbad wrote:
>Once you reach the anchors, there is only one person that can hurt you
>and that is yourself.
>
>Unless there was a wrongly threaded Gri Gri and the most senior member
>also let go of the brake rope, the fault lies with th climber.
>
>If communication is a problem, clean and rap, the belayer plays no part
>in your own safety.

Um, no, fuch that. Stay on belay unless there is a clear understanding that the climber is rapping. The suggestion that a climber should reach the anchor and then piss around trying to work out what the plan is for getting down (with the added bonus of the belayer not defaulting to failsafe) is one of the more stupid things I've ever read on here.

rodw
18-May-2017
11:10:45 AM
On 18/05/2017 One Day Hero wrote:

>Um, no, fuch that. Stay on belay unless there is a clear understanding
>that the climber is rapping. The suggestion that a climber should reach
>the anchor and then piss around trying to work out what the plan is for
>getting down (with the added bonus of the belayer not defaulting to failsafe)
>is one of the more stupid things I've ever read on here.

Yep climbing 101 there ODH ( I get scared when i agree with you), just stay on belay until your charge is down or you can finally see hes rapping off etc...always assume the worse unless proved otherwise I say...the weakest link in any climbing system are the users.

Lingy
18-May-2017
11:18:58 AM
On 18/05/2017 rightarmbad wrote:
>For the senior member to take him off belay he must have already asked
>to be taken off belay himself to clean and rap or been asked if he still
>requires a belay and he must have answered no.
>
>Unless there was a wrongly threaded Gri Gri and the most senior member
>also let go of the brake rope, the fault lies with th climber.

The report states that the climber was taken off belay and left unattended, the implication being that they weren't simply given slack to clean but rather that the belay device was physically removed. Whether or not this was the actual case or just imprecise reporting, I don't know and won't speculate (I wasn't there).

I will however say that if I was cleaning a route and looked down to find my belayer had removed the belay device from the rope I'd be finding myself a new partner quick smart. For single-pitch sport climbing with no top-outs, the only time it's acceptable to take a climber completely off belay so far as I'm concerned is if they specifically ask you to do so and have adequately explained why. 'To clean the route' is not an adequate explanation.

cruze
18-May-2017
11:33:11 AM
There are no winners here, except the lawyers.

A terrible tragedy, my heart goes out to all those involved.

We all know that journalistic wannabes trawl these threads, particularly with this type of story. The implications for Uni clubs that are somehow involved in these sorts of "club trips" are pretty obvious.

Here's a thought - maybe don't speculate on what happened or should have happened.

In New Zealand the ACC system provides a publicly funded safety net for such accidents with the aim of keeping money out of the pockets of lawyers while enabling people to run such activities which on the whole benefit society.
One Day Hero
18-May-2017
11:49:00 AM
I agree Cruze. However, there is a limit to what someone can say on here without bullshit being called.

I'm all for a bit of dangerousness in climbing, but the nonsense rightarmbad suggested is insanity.

Mods should nuke this thread.

cruze
18-May-2017
11:57:22 AM
+1 ODH
rightarmbad
18-May-2017
1:33:13 PM
I agree, as a belayer I don't take anybody off belay unless specifically asked to and have a second confirmation.
But there is never a reason for the guy on the wall to fall once he has reached the anchors as his actions are the only ones that control his destiny.
I will never take my safety off until I have confirmed verbally that I am on belay and feel the rope take my weight.
If not then I then have the choice to clarify the situation and rectify it or simply rap clean myself.
Doesn't matter what the belayer does once I reach the anchors, my fate is in my own hands.
The only way I can get hurt in that situation is if I fruck up myself or my belayer lets go of the rope after starting to lower for some inexplicable reason.
First rule, look after thyself.
At the anchors I have every tool required to not get hurt.

One Day Hero
18-May-2017
1:52:10 PM
On 18/05/2017 rightarmbad wrote:
>But there is never a reason for the guy on the wall to fall once he has
>reached the anchors as his actions are the only ones that control his destiny.

What are you talking about, dude? I regularly get to an anchor, out of sight and talking range of my belayer, thread the thing, then bomb onto the rope. If my belayer takes me off, I'm fuching toast.

I do not climb with people who take me off belay without the "Safe", "You say safe?", "Yep", "Ok, off belay" conversation.

The only person who ever took me off belay without me telling them to is fuching dead to me. I deleted their phone number then told everyone I could think of not to climb with the fuchwit.
gfdonc
18-May-2017
2:47:56 PM
My 2c. I don't sport climb all the time, so whenever we're in a rethreading exercise it tends to be a very controlled, paranoid and carefully orchestrated process.
Regardless, no-one ever takes anyone off belay until they're back on the ground or it has been agreed (usually before) they are going to rap and they've confirmed that.

johnpitcairn
18-May-2017
3:00:03 PM
I always assume I'm abseiling unless otherwise agreed.

tnd
18-May-2017
4:29:08 PM
A word on this from my many years' experience on the Sydney Rockclimbing Club committee, in the period after we ceased being able to obtain third party liability insurance, and so stopped running climbing trips for a while.

When the law in NSW subsequently changed to make accidents due to "obviously dangerous activities" very difficult to blame on anyone else, we were lucky enough to get (pro-bono) legal advice on a process by which we could resume club-organised group climbing.

Both the annual membership form and individual trip sign-on sheets now exhaustively list the ways that the activity can maim or kill you. If you willingly acknowledge that, then there's no use calling a lawyer if you get hurt. Contingency lawyers probably wouldn't touch one of those cases now, you'd be paying their fees up front.

In this case, Qld law might differ, and the Uni might have insurers, who could well choose to pay out a lower sum, which is still less than their legal costs to win the case. Basically, go-away money.

Regarding the NZ ACC scheme, isn't our National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supposed to be the equivalent?

Amazingly, I too agree with ODH, and similarly have had only one person take me off belay without letting me know. He got the same treatment as ODH described.
patto
18-May-2017
5:58:58 PM
On 18/05/2017 tnd wrote:
>Both the annual membership form and individual trip sign-on sheets now
>exhaustively list the ways that the activity can maim or kill you. If you
>willingly acknowledge that, then there's no use calling a lawyer if you
>get hurt.

I'm sorry but that pro-bono law advice is worth as much as was paid. Simply put acknowledging risks and signing waivers does not recuse the duty of care clubs/people have towards participants. In Australia in particular most such waivers aren't worth the paper they are written on.

Regarding this event. This isn't the first or the last of such occurrences. Volunteer clubs are under threat due to the above reasons. "Experienced" abseiler/climber, lets go of rope and sues the biggest pockets available. In Australia they generally win because the notion of risk acceptance doesn't exist.

**No blame directed towards injured parties. They are making a rational decision based on their life needs. But the damage that it does to the club community is immense.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
18-May-2017
8:31:44 PM
On 18/05/2017 patto wrote:
(snip)
>In Australia they generally win because the notion of risk acceptance doesn't exist.
(snip)

?
Wasn't there a landmark case a few years back in Northern Territory where some possibly-intoxicated(?) person fell off a cliff on a walking trail/lookout and tried sueing all and sundry because of alleged lack of signage and fences; but the case was thrown out in court due to the finding that they were responsible for their own safety re the 'risks' they took?
I remember it being lauded at the time as a win for common sense and an excellent precedent for future 'liability claims'...

>QUT and affiliates sued for $8m Kangaroo Point
~> My commiserations for all concerned.

ODH wrote:
>Mods should nuke this thread.

Why?
Despite being tragic, and as a result potentially sensitive for those involved, I'd reckon it is an important topic that would be of great interest to many of today's climbers in our sadly ever-increasingly litigious society.
... And on a lighthearted note; I also reckon the topic of more interest than another repeat of old topics, plus I want to see the outcome of your debaiting leftarmgood!
Heh, heh, heh.

ODH also wrote;
>I do not climb with people who take me off belay without the "Safe", "You say safe?", "Yep", "Ok, off belay" conversation.

>The only person who ever took me off belay without me telling them to is fuching dead to me. I deleted their phone number then told everyone I could think of not to climb with the fuchwit.

Another +1 to that...
I guess I am fortunate that it has only happened to me once in my long climbing sojourn, but it has certainly indelibly imprinted my memory bank and keeps me wary to this day...

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