A Huntly chicken farm, sued by a former employee for negligence, has settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Stanley Boulton was taking legal action against Hy-Line Australia Pty Ltd in the Victorian Supreme Court sitting in Bendigo this week.
He was suing the company for injuries he received when he was trapped in a shed fire at the farm on April 9, 2009.
He also launched legal action against Adept Building & Construction Pty Ltd, whose employees allegedly started the fire while carrying out welding work on the shed’s stairs.
Mr Boulton became trapped in the large, two-storey chicken shed after a fire started next to the building’s only exit.
He told the court he had suffered serious breathing and psychological issues since the incident. The case was booked to be heard for the next fortnight, but yesterday morning a partial settlement was reached with both defendants and the jury dismissed.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said the defendants were still working out how the contribution would be split, and the matter would be finalised in Melbourne at a later date.
Mr Boulton’s solicitor Bob Cameron would not disclose the sum his client had settled for but said Mr Boulton was “pleased” with the outcome.
He said the settlement had come after the jury heard evidence from CFA operations officer John Cutting who had attended the fire.
Mr Cutting said the most probable cause of the fire was either welding or metal cutting, and that no other reasonable cause was established.
In his evidence Mr Boulton told the court he had seen Adept workers welding handrails and cutting metal near the entrance to the shed when he returned from lunch about 1.15pm. The fire started about 2pm.
Mr Cutting said he spoke to a representative of Adept and was told the handrails were installed at 11.30am and his workers had packed up for the day.
But the fireman said that did not match up with his observations at the scene.
“I did question if the workmen had packed up why did they leave several items of equipment including welding rods, pry bar, welding hammer, extension lead, ladder etc?” Mr Cutting said.
Representatives from Hy-Line and Adept could not be reached for comment yesterday.