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Teacher who slipped on grape fails in $500k compo claim

A SPECIALIST teacher who slipped on a grape while working at a Maryborough school has had her $500,000 compensation claim rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Debbie Ann Deans, 56, appealed to the state's Court of Appeal last year after the District Court ruled Riverside Christian College in Maryborough was not responsible for her fall, and the school did not breach its duty of care.

She appealed on 14 grounds.

In the decision, handed down last month, Justice Robert Gotterson ruled that the risk of a kneecap injury "was foreseeable" but that it was "a very low risk" and that Ms Deans "failed to establish by evidence any precaution" that the school ought to reasonably have taken to avoid the risk.

Ms Deans, a specialist literacy coach, slipped and fell to the linoleum floor on the morning of March 4, 2015 as she walked from one classroom to another carrying a one metre long "large chart book".

She landed "on top of the book" and fractured her left kneecap, Ms Deans told the court.

She looked over and saw a squashed grape on the floor, the court heard.

In last year's hearing in the District Court Ms Deans lawyers argued the grape must have escaped from a child's snack during an official school "fruit break", aimed at boosting kids health, and that the school should have done more to keep the floor fruit-free.

In last year's decision the District Court judge ruled the schools clean-up systems were "reasonable in the circumstances" and even if the school improved its cleaning, "one grape on the floor" may remain undetected.

The District Court ruled that it would not be reasonable for the school to abolish the students' fruit break.

The Court of Appeal today ruled that the trial judge was right to find the risk of injury to Ms Deans was "insignificant" and that a reasonable person in the school's position would not have needed to take the precautions suggested by Ms Deans.

The Court of Appeal found the school was not required to warn teachers to check for spilt fruit before crossing the foyer after children's fruit break.

"Adults know of the need to maintain some look-out for objects on the ground as they move about," Justice Gotterson stated in the unanimous decision.