William Macfarlane, 72, who was injured when he slipped on spilt liquid, believed to be a thick shake, while going through a Woolworths checkout in 2018.
William Macfarlane, 72, who was injured when he slipped on spilt liquid, believed to be a thick shake, while going through a Woolworths checkout in 2018.

Million-dollar lawsuit over checkout slip-up

AN ELDERLY Brisbane man is suing Woolworths for over $1 million, claiming he slipped on spilt thickshake-type liquid while walking through a department store checkout.

Bill Macfarlane, then 70, suffered leg, hip, thigh, shoulder and face injuries when he fell in Big W at Brookside Shopping Centre in 2018, his Supreme Court claim says.

Mr Macfarlane, who spent almost a month in hospital after leg surgery, says he still lives with hip and shoulder pain.

"It's affected me in every way. I loved my gardening, but I can't do that now,'' said Mr Macfarlane, now 72.

Mr Macfarlane's claim says he slipped on a white milky substance, similar to a thickshake, and fell forward as he was walking through the store's staff-assisted checkout with his wife.

He claims a plastic lid and white straw were on the floor near the milky substance.

Mr Macfarlane is suing Woolworths Group Limited for damages for personal injuries, loss and damage, totalling $1,151,878.

A Big W spokeswoman said the claim would be defended.

"We take the health and safety of our customers and team members very seriously,'' the spokeswoman said.

"Our team members work hard to reduce trips and slips in our stores by conducting regular inspections.''

Mr Macfarlane's wife Maggie, 71, now has to help him put on and take off his shirts because of restrictions caused by a shoulder tear and he also needs help getting out of chairs.

Former competitive dancers, Mr Macfarlane and his wife had enjoyed regular social dancing, but that has become a thing of the past, because of restricted arm movements

The retired engineer engineer, who worked for Qantas for 32 years, says the slip injuries have turned his life right around, affecting his physical and emotional health.

"The shoulder is not repairable, I've just got to live with it, and at my age, it's not easy,'' Mr Macfarlane said.

"I go to pick up something I think I can reach, and it's a reach too far.''

Mr Macfarlane's Supreme Court claim, filed by Littles Lawyers partner Sugath Wijedoru, says he cannot stand or walk for prolonged periods or negotiate stairs or uneven surfaces.

He also cannot do some of the domestic chores he once did with his wife, including cooking, cleaning, making the bed, hanging out washing, vacuuming or lawn mowing.

The claim alleges the store was negligent in failing to have a system of regular inspection and in failing to identify and rectify the slipping hazard.

"This highlights the need for staff in stores to be more vigilant in observing high traffic areas,'' Mr Wijedoru said.

"This happened at a checkout, in line of sight of checkout staff.''

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