Mojo Animals Pty Ltd owns and operates a small travelling show which it takes on
tour throughout regional Australia. It employed Pablo Ramirez as an animal trainer.
He has been working with the show for the past five years. As part of his
employment agreement with Mojo, he provides and maintains the animals and
equipment he uses in his act.
In August last year the travelling show manager, Elita Milano, insisted that Pablo
make his act more exciting. She also directed that Pablo should use her 19-year-old
nephew, Jeremy, in his act to help make it more exciting. She said that Jeremy was
a born acrobat and was very passionate about animals. She also added that
although Mojo was not prepared to employ any new person for the show, the
experience would be very helpful for Jeremy to find a job he would love in the future.
Part of Pablo’s act involved the use of elephants who paraded around the ring while
chimpanzees balanced on their backs doing various tricks. To make the act more
exciting Pablo decided that Jeremy should do handstands and other acrobatic
manoeuvres on the back of the lead elephant. The changes to the act were very
successful and Jeremy became more and more daring in his acrobatics. However,
during one of the performances Jeremy fell from the back of the elephant. He
suffered serious knee injuries and had several fractured ribs. Jeremy would not have
fallen if Pablo had provided him with a safety harness. He was unconscious when he
was rushed by ambulance to the Sunnydale Hospital. Jeremy’s mother, Lauren, who
was in the audience during Jeremy’s performance, suffered a profound shock and
developed a recognised psychiatric illness.
After admission to the hospital, Jeremy underwent a major surgery of knee
replacement. During this surgery the surgeon caused significant damage to his
nerves and incorrectly inserted the prosthesis which rendered him unable to walk.
Jeremy and Lauren have approached you for advice as to who they can sue in these
circumstances and the likelihood of success if they sue in the tort of negligence.