Heartbroken brother takes on big insurer over bullying death
A HEARTBROKEN fly-in fly-out worker is fighting for justice after his brother took his own life while being "harassed" by a workers compensation insurance company to get back to work.
Jesse Gaunt was working on an iron mine near Pine Creek, about 225km south of Darwin, when he broke his ankle on the job.
The injury required multiple surgeries but, after a while, the company's workers compensation insurer, CGU Insurance, began arguing he should be able to return to work despite still being on crutches.
After years of continued "intimidation" from the insurer, Jesse took his own life.
Now his brother, Adam, has submitted a dependency claim to CGU Insurance.
"My brother was my soulmate," Adam said.
"When he went, my entire life just got destroyed. We have four properties together, we've lived together the past seven years, we've worked side-by-side. Everything we done was the same."
However, the insurer is arguing this situation doesn't meet the requirements for the act. Maurice Blackburn associate John Rule, who is the lawyer in charge of the case, said there was little case law in the Territory indicating the direction the case would go.
"In many other jurisdictions in Australia, they accept that a partner can be a dependent but up here there's nothing," Mr Rule said.
"Was Adam dependent on him? The act is quite broad but they both own houses together and now Adam is under a massive financial pressure to pay the mortgages. His only family member has died and he's being treated appallingly."
Mr Rule said this case was similar to others he had been forced to argue before.
"It's a real tactic of insurers to grind people down and say they're exaggerating. It really affects their mental health," he said. "Jesse's entitlements ceased when he died."
A CGU spokeswoman said the company took work related injuries, including mental health illness very seriously.
"We believe all injured workers should be treated with compassion and respect to support their rehabilitation, recovery and safe return to the community and workforce."
She could not comment on the individual case because of the legal proceedings.