'Insulting' offer new blow to victim

16:00, Dec 17 2013

The woman who may have her leg amputated after falling from a Coronet Peak chairlift says the $35,000 compensation she has been awarded is insulting.

Judge David Holderness, in a written decision, also awarded $12,500 to her injured partner and fined NZSki $27,000. Overall, the company was ordered to pay $75,000.

The woman, who has name suppression, struggles to walk and can no longer work. She said she had a "quiet weep" as she learned of the decision yesterday.

"I won't enjoy Christmas now."

She said her quality of life was completely destroyed by the incident after she and her partner travelled up the Coronet Express lift as foot passengers in August last year.

They fell up to four metres on to ice when an NZSki employee failed to slow the lift for them at the top.


The company was convicted earlier this month after pleading guilty to a serious health and safety charge.

"I can't get over what happened," the woman said yesterday.

"I'm gutted. I'm disgusted. I'm devastated. I'm very insulted to think that my own quality of life is worth only that. It's absolutely dreadful.

"All our plans . . . we were planning to go live overseas. It's gone now. We can't do it now."

The couple are preparing to sell their Auckland home because they say they cannot afford the upkeep on the house.

The woman said she also could no longer live with stairs, do the gardens or even walk to the letterbox.

She was unhappy that she had received no apology nor a personal visit from anyone associated with NZSki.

Company owner Sir John Davies was last in touch in January with a payment of just over $2000 and informed her it was a one-off payment only, the woman said.

In his decision, Judge Holderness said there was a marked dispute as to the degree of concern and remorse communicated by the company.

"However, I am satisfied . . . that contact was at least attempted on a number of occasions.

"Furthermore, I accept that there were constraints on the propriety of the company making contact once the investigation into the accident was under way."

Davies declined to answer questions yesterday and directed The Southland Times to a company statement.

It said: "NZSki sincerely regrets the injuries received by two foot passengers on August 2 2012 and accepts that these were caused by the failure of an NZSki employee to slow or stop the chairlift to enable the passengers to safely disembark.

"As the employer, NZSki accepts legal responsibility for the inaction of its employee."

The woman said it was unfair that everyone else involved with the case could get on with their lives.

"It's all nice and cosy and mine is just sheer hell . . . and that's all it's worth. It's terrible and degrading."

Two specialists had suggested her leg should be amputated but she could not go under anaesthetic until a heart condition was treated.

"They think if they do the amputation there could be all sorts of complications."

In the meantime she was having to massage her leg every day before she could get out of bed and to always wear boots - not the high heels she preferred.

"Now I'm having special things fitted for my shoe because my leg is so misshapen it's thrown my body out a bit."

While much of her ongoing treatments and operations were covered by the public system she had to pay about $80 a week herself.

"It doesn't matter what they offer you, it can never compensate for my loss and quality of life but at the same time it shouldn't have been insulting."

The Southland Times