Abuse: Trespass to the person (Queensland).

Brockhurst v Rawlings [2021] QSC 217 (available on the Supreme Court Library) arose from allegations of abuse of a student by his teacher. The claimant had not made a police report.

In issue at the hearing was the nature of the relationship between the teacher and the student (some 25 years earlier) when the student was aged 14 years; and the assessment of damages. Causation of damage was complicated as the plaintiff was displaying behaviours consistent with oppositional defiant disorder beforehand ([13]).

Much of the judgment focused on evidence to determine what had occurred. The Court ultimately held that there was intimate and sexual physical contact, applying the Briginshaw standard ([337]).

The Court assessed quantum and made awards for general damages $65,000 ([456]) and interest. Economic loss was awarded by reference to average weekly earnings ([473]) with allowances for past and future losses.

Aggravated damages of $35,000 plus interest were awarded, apparently in part because of the conduct of the litigation ([490]). Exemplary damages were awarded in the sum of $15,000, the amount being calculated to avoid double compensation ([496]).

There was a set off in respect of two thirds of a prior payment of compensation by the school.