Truckie to pay $3500 in costs

Last updated 05:00 26/09/2012

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A Waimate truck driver who was dismissed after crashing his truck days after using cannabis has now been ordered to pay $3500 towards his former employer's legal costs.

Back in May the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled Rooney Earthmoving Ltd was justified in dismissing Gary Goodman and ordered him to pay the company for damage to the truck. A year earlier Goodman was driving a truck and trailer, carrying lime, on State Highway 83 near Peebles in North Otago.

He pulled out to pass a tractor and believed he had enough time to return to his own side of the road before having to turn right into Gibson Rd.

As he pulled out, a car appeared and Goodman turned too quickly into Gibson Rd, skidding into a tree on the corner.

The accident caused more than $10,000 damage to the Mercedes-Benz truck.

After the crash, Goodman tested positive for cannabis use - 289 nanograms of cannabinoids per millilitre of urine.  Goodman said he had smoked a cannabis joint four days before the crash but did not agree he would have been driving under the influence at the time of the accident.

He also admitted to being a recreational cannabis user, stating he usually consumed cannabis by eating it, and did so to keep glaucoma at bay. Goodman was fired on the basis that he "regularly ate cannabis".

Goodman said he was unjustifiably dismissed and asked for $8000 in compensation for distress caused, as well as lost wages and court costs. Rooney Earthmoving counter-claimed for the cost of damage to the company vehicle. The ERA found Goodman's dismissal was justified and ordered he pay $9310 to Rooney Earthmoving for the damage caused by the accident.

The company went back to the ERA submitting Goodman's claim was unmeritorious. In his decision, ERA member David Appleton did not agree it had no merit. He ordered Goodman to pay a contribution of $3500 towards the respondent's legal costs. Goodman had sought to pay the truck damage off at $20 a week, but Appleton found that was unreasonable. He also declined Goodman's request to pay off the legal costs at the same weekly rate.

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- The Timaru Herald

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