VENTURE MOULD & ENGINEERING AUSTRALIA PTY LTD --- Magistrate B.R. Wright. Melbourne REASONS FOR DECISION ---

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1 !Und efined Boo kmark, I IN THE MAGISTRATES COURT OF VICTORIA AT MELBOURNE D MICHAEL MILOVANOVIC Plaintiff v VENTURE MOULD & ENGINEERING AUSTRALIA PTY LTD Defendant --- MAGISTRATE: Magistrate B.R. Wright WHERE HELD: Melbourne DATE OF HEARING: 23 April, 22 May 2014 DATE OF DECISION: 17 June 2014 CASE MAY BE CITED AS: Milovanovic v. Venture Mould & Engineering REASONS FOR DECISION --- Catchwords: Workers Compensation Termination of WorkCover Benefits - Application by Defendant for referral to VCAT for appointment of litigation guardian Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 s66 APPEARANCES: Counsel Solicitors --- For the Plaintiff In person For the Defendant Mr M Richards Thompson Geer LEGAL TRANSCRIPTS PTY LTD SUITE 18, 600 LONSDALE STREET MELBOURNE - Telephone

2 HIS HONOUR: 1 The Defendant in these proceedings has issued an application seeking the court refer the issue as to whether Mr Milovanovic should have a litigation guardian appointed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ( VCAT ) pursuant to s.66 of the Guardianship and Administration Act Pursuant to that provision, if in any civil proceedings before a court the court considers that a party may need to have a guardian or administrator or both appointed under the Act, the court (including a Magistrates' Court) may refer the issue to VCAT for its determination. 3 The application also seeks an order that Mr Milovanovic obtain legal representation prior to the listing of these proceedings for hearing. Mr Milovanovic is not represented at present. This has been the case since his former lawyers, Shine Lawyers, filed a Notice that they were ceasing to act on his behalf in January In fact, on the materials before me he has had other solicitors in the past as well. 4 I do not see that I have any power to make such an order that he "obtain a legal representation" in these civil proceedings which involve a claim pursuant to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 ( the Act ), despite my view that he should have legal representation. In any event, Counsel for the defendant made no submission on this point. 5 Based on the original and the amended Statements of Claim and three amended Defences, Mr Milovanovic sustained an accepted work related injury to his right ring finger on or about 25 September He was paid workers compensation benefits. 6 Further, he had a head trauma injury on 25 January 2008 resulting in, "cognitive deficit disorder, dizziness, neurological deficit, hearing loss and loss of smell with his psychological injury including anxiety and depression" according to the Statement of Claim. 1 DECISION

3 7 It is alleged that the 25 January 2008 injury was a consequence of the original 25 September 1995 injury. 8 Apparently, liability was accepted initially for the 25 January 2008 injury though his payments were later terminated by way of a Notice of Termination effective as at 22 November The Defendant in its Further Amended Defence states it admitted liability to pay benefits under the Act for the 25 September 1995 injury but now denies any liability under the Act for the 25 January 2008 injury. It alleges the 25 January 2008 injury occurred when he fell from a skateboard and this did not "arise out of or in the course of his employment". 9 Without going in to detail, the Defendant exhibits a number of medical reports to its affidavit in support of this application. Mr Milovanovic has produced other medical reports in support of his case. 10 Briefly, there is medical support for Mr Milovanovic's contention that the 25 January 2008 injury was consequential upon the taking of medication, especially antidepressants, because of his 25 September 1995 injury. It is contended in some of the medical reports that the increased medication led to symptoms of dizziness and unsteadiness, which resulted in his fall on 25 January 2008 at a park. 11 In short, he has an arguable case and these proceedings are not vexatious. 12 I will briefly refer to some of the relevant treating doctors' and psychologists' medical reports. 13 As a result of his 25 January 2008 fall, he was in a coma at the Alfred Hospital for over two weeks. According to a report from Alfred Health dated 23 May 2013, he sustained in the fall a "traumatic brain injury, with a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a small subdural haematoma and bifrontal basal contusions. In addition, it is said that he sustained a fracture of the base of the skull. 2 DECISION

4 14 His GP, Dr Doss, in a report dated 17 December 2012 refers to "recurrent bouts of anger, depression and restlessness amongst other continuing medical problems". 15 Mr Jack McCaffrey, a psychologist, treated him at least between August 2001 and December In a report dated 24 January 2013 he refers to the catastrophic decline Mr Milovanovic's head injury brought on to his emotional/ psychological health thereafter and the compounding effect such deterioration had on his already impaired psychological state. He states that Mr Milovanovic "has nil emotional resources to cope with any procedural aspects of the WorkCover system". 16 When this application came before me first on 23 April 2014 I asked Mr Milovanovic to obtain a short medical report from his present treating psychiatrist, Dr Melvin Pinto. Subsequently, he handed up a short report from Dr Pinto dated 8 May Dr Pinto states that Mr Milovanovic:- "suffers from a Major depressive disorder, a chronic pain syndrome, and cognitive impairment following brain injury, with organic personality changes following brain injury, with organic personality change following the brain injury. Following these injuries, Mr Milovanovic shows significant impairment in cognitive functioning and judgement. He therefore would benefit from the appointment of a litigation guardian. However, he and his wife Dijana, are determined they shall represent themselves at their court hearing." 17 The solicitors for the Defendant have exhibited a number of medical reports over the years from independent medical examiners who have noted hostility, anger and abuse by Mr Milovanovic in the course of their medical examinations. 18 Certainly, on the two short occasions he has appeared before me he has been angry and very emotional at times. This has occurred when I have raised issues with him. He wants to raise matters before the court relating to his former solicitors and some medical practitioners and other issues, which are not relevant to the issues this court must determine in this claim under the 3 DECISION

5 Act. 19 He forcefully stated to me that there was a conspiracy and/or conflict of interest between his former solicitor and his former psychiatrist which he says is an issue in these proceedings. He has forwarded material to this court for his case accusing his former solicitors of negligence, corruption, sabotage and other unprofessional conduct as to their handling of his case. 20 He has filed with the court copies of complaints made by him to such bodies as the Ombudsman, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Disability Services Commission, amongst other organisations. The complaints were about the conduct of his two previous solicitors, Allianz Insurance, the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service, WorkSafe, the Registry at the Magistrates' Court and the Defendant's solicitors amongst others. His allegations relate to "professional negligence/misconduct, sabotage, mis-information/no information/no advice, to conflict of interest (defamation), solicitor admitting an addiction to Stilnox... and contravening the law at numerous points blatantly". 21 The above copy complaints and other related material were sent to this court by Mr Milovanovic for the previous court hearing, which had been fixed for 14 May I vacated that hearing date in order to consider the present application. 22 Mr Milovanovic does not appear to appreciate that his complaints against the three firms of solicitors and the other organisations are not relevant to the issues this court has to decide in these proceedings. This court needs to determine solely whether he has an entitlement to statutory benefits under the Act in respect of the 25 January 2008 injury. 23 There is medical material before me that he continues to have major physical and psychological health issues, because of the 25 January 2008 fall. 4 DECISION

6 24 I have already referred in some detail to the treating doctors and psychologists' material in this case. 25 Most importantly, his treating psychiatrist refers to his significant impairment in cognitive functioning and judgment and states Mr Milovanovic "would benefit from the appointment of a litigation guardian". His former treating psychologist in January 2013 stated that Mr Milovanovic "has nil emotional resources to cope with any procedural aspects of the WorkCover system". 26 On the material before me and having observed Mr Milovanovic at court on two occasions, I have major concerns as to his capacity to represent himself in these proceedings and in particular as to his capacity to take advice, make appropriate decisions as to his case. As a result, he is arguably incapable of managing his own affairs in relation to these proceedings. 27 When this application was initially before me I asked Mr Milovanovic as to his views as to a litigation guardian being appointed. He said that he and his wife opposed a litigation guardian being appointed. 28 Now that I have considered the material before me and handed down my decision, I will give him an opportunity to make further submissions before making any order on the application before me DECISION

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