Employer liable for the death of an employee who suffered a cardiac arrest from work related stress

Published 13 September 2016

The Workers Compensation Commission rejected the grounds of appeal of Tudor Capital Australia Pty Ltd after a case where they were found liable for the death of an employee after a cardiac arrest relating to work.

Grant Andrew Christensen (the deceased) was an employee of Tudor Capital Australia Pty Ltd (Tudor Capital) originally in Melbourne, before he was relocated to London to work for Tudor Capital (UK) LP and then relocated to their Sydney office. He worked in the financial trading industry.

In June 2008, the deceased was placed on a company “watch list” or probation, which he was not informed of until two months later.

The deceased’s wife, Mrs Christensen, claimed that her husband was stressed about being placed on the watch list and that he was hesitant to take time off work, even for medical reasons. He was also missing regular sleep as a result of working long hours.

The deceased passed away in 2008 with the recorded cause of death being “unascertained natural causes”.

Medical experts submitted that work stress likely predisposed or caused the deceased to contract a viral illness, which was reported to have contributed to his death.

The deceased had no previous history of “collapses, chest pain, exertional dyspnoea… or palpitation” and there was no evidence of familial risk factors.

Arbitrator Wynyard found that the deceased’s employment was “the main substantial reason for the breakdown of the deceased’s health and subsequent death”, finding the employer, Tudor Capital, liable.

Tudor Capital appealed the decision, claiming the Arbitrator had made a number of erroneous findings of fact, had reversed the onus of proof, erred in concluding the cause of death, failed to apply s 9A of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 correctly and wrongly rejected evidence.

Deputy President O’Grady rejected these grounds of appeal, stating that the conclusions reached by the Arbitrator were reasonable and no error was made out.

The Deputy President agreed with the Arbitrator that the likely cause of the deceased’s deteriorated health was work-related stress.

The matter was remitted to Arbitrator Wynyard to hear about the question of apportionment.

Read the full decision here

This content is general in nature and provides a summary of the issues covered. It is not intended to be, nor should it be relied upon, as legal or professional advice for specific employment situations.

Olexo Workplace Law recommends that specialist legal advice should be sought about specific legal issues.