Barristers at 11 Wentworth were left feeling a little red-cheeked recently after a case which they had taken on for an apparently hard-done-by colleague was exposed as, well, a blatant rort.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, barristers at 11 Wentworth, where Maria Goritsas worked as a cleaner, were left aghast when she recounted her tale of woe: she had, apparently, been falsely accused of shoplifting, roughed up by a beefy security guard and subsequently held against her will by a Best & Less shop detective. During the kafuffle, Goritsas apparently obtained a serious injury to her right hand.
Upon hearing Goritsas' tale, silk John Maconachie promptly referred her to solicitor Greg Walsh, who then launched an action for battery, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, and aggravated and exemplary damages.
In the witness box, it seemed that Goritsas' injury to her right hand was so severe that she struggled to turn pages with her left hand while she nursed her right hand in a brace.
But Goritsas' world came tumbling down when she heard the words every dodgy compo claim victim dreads: "surveillance footage".
Unfortunately for the hapless Goritsas, the day before she performed in the witness box, a stealthy cameraman filmed her merrily opening the car door with her right hand, bringing in the bins using both hands, and taking the car for a spin.
Needless to say, the judge was none too impressed.
"The surveillance tape paints a clear picture of a person with no movement restrictions of any kind," said Judge Judith Gibson.
Adding insult to injury was defence barrister Graham Grant, from - would you believe it - 12 Wentworth, who brought up the wee issue of Goritsas' seven previous claims for damages in various "trip and slip" cases. These included a 1989 car accident, a tumble on the dance floor at the Palati Greek Nightspot, a work injury claim for hearing loss, an injury to her right hand which she suffered at her daughter's bakery, yet another slip at the Conca D'Ora coffee shop, and the list goes on.
After all of the evidence was presented, Judge Gibson concluded that Goritsas was never dragged from her car or pushed in the back as she had claimed. In fact, Gibson found that the shop detective "never touched her at all".
So, Goritsas has had to kiss the idea of a nice little $80,000 compo payout goodbye and instead embrace the idea of a legal bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars which awaits.
Judge Gibson did, however, note that Goritsas' apparent dodginess did not reflect poorly on her legal team "which was exemplary throughout".
And so ends this tale of woe: Goritsas is still pushing the mop for her buddies at 11 Wentworth and, word has it, is trying to land some additional work from other chambers in the building ...
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