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Resort guest: ‘This has ruined my career’

Leeanne Casey, whose left arm was speared by a palm frond while she was lying on a pool lounge at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort in 2014.
Leeanne Casey, whose left arm was speared by a palm frond while she was lying on a pool lounge at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort in 2014.

WHAT was supposed to be a relaxing Gold Coast holiday turned into a painful experience for Leeanne Casey, whose arm was speared by a palm frond while she was lying beside a resort pool.

The former accounts manager, 64, says she suffered nerve damage and has not been able to work since she was injured at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort three years ago.

Victorian woman Leeanne Casey is suing the resort and a company that provided garden maintenance services for almost $360,000.

When Ms Casey checked in at the resort early on October 5, 2014, she was told her room was not ready, but she could sit by the pool while it was being prepared.

She was lying on a sun lounge by the pool, with her eyes closed, when, without warning, a palm tree frond fell from about 20 metres above her, the claim, filed by Maurice Blackburn, alleges.

The palm frond spine penetrated her left forearm.

The resort and gardening firm are yet to respond to the claim.

"I went into shock. I couldn't move my hand or arm and I thought it was broken. It felt like I'd been stabbed with something,'' Ms Casey said.

Ms Casey’s injured left arm.
Ms Casey’s injured left arm.

Ms Casey was taken by ambulance to Gold Coast University Hospital, where she was kept overnight, and her wound was cleaned and sutured. Surgery later revealed left radial nerve trauma.

Ms Casey and her husband, from whom she has since separated, had prepaid for the week's stay at the Marriott Resort, but she said she only left the hotel room to return to the hospital.

Her claim alleges she suffered a penetrating injury that was painful and shocking, nerve damage, scarring and aggravation of a pre-existing psychological condition.

Ms Casey has had physiotherapy and occupational therapy, but she still suffers persistent weakness, sensory loss and pain in her upper arm, the claim says.

Views of the pool area at the Marriott in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Adam Head
Views of the pool area at the Marriott in Surfers Paradise. Picture: Adam Head

She has not been able to return to her normal work as a full-time accounts manager.

"I'm a touch typist. This has ruined my career. My arm is still painful, it's still numb,'' Ms Casey said.

Lawyer Anna Morgan of Maurice Blackburn said a devastating injury had robbed Ms Casey of a lifetime career and her ability to support herself.

Ms Morgan said Ms Casey had the right to expect a safe environment at the hotel, and "not to become a pincushion for unkempt palms''.

"The hotel knew palm fronds could fall and placed lounges under the palms, without ensuring no dead fronds could fall,'' she said.

In the last five years doctors at the Gold Coast's largest emergency department have treated 45 people with injuries from palm frond spikes, according to an orthopedic doctor's report.

Leeanne Casey left arm was speared by a palm frond.
Leeanne Casey left arm was speared by a palm frond.

She has not been able to return to her normal work as a full-time accounts manager.

"I'm a touch typist. This has ruined my career. My arm is still painful, it's still numb,'' Ms Casey said.

Lawyer Anna Morgan of Maurice Blackburn said a devastating injury had robbed Ms Casey of a lifetime career and her ability to support herself.

Ms Morgan said Ms Casey had the right to expect a safe environment at the hotel, and "not to become a pincushion for unkempt palms''.

Tree Falls in NYC's Central Park Injuring 4, Reports Say. Credit - Twitter/NoeVandeKamp via Storyful

"The hotel knew palm fronds could fall and placed lounges under the palms, without ensuring no dead fronds could fall,'' she said.

In the last five years doctors at the Gold Coast's largest emergency department have treated 45 people with injuries from palm frond spikes, according to an orthopedic doctor's report.

Photos of Leeanne Casey at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort in 2014.
Photos of Leeanne Casey at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort in 2014.

Topics:  editors picks injury leanne casey litigation resort


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