Judge's resignation a blow for Ballina couple
By DAWN COHEN
BALLINA couple Mark Richards and Judy Ennis are hundreds of thousands of dollars better off today than they were yesterday, but it is a cautious, strained joy that etches their smiles.
The couple had been awaiting judgment from Justice Jeff Shaw in a medical negligence case they have been waging for their daughter, Rhiannon.
The six-year-old has an intellectual disability allegedly caused by a failure to treat her epilepsy by Westmead Hospital and a Dubbo paediatrician.
She will require life-long care and damages are expected to be in the millions of dollars.
Oral submissions were submitted to the court before the judge crashed his Alfa Romeo while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, leading to his resignation.
Now the case, costing nearly $800,000 for both sides, and taking years to prepare, must go to trial again. The Outdated Suitors Fund Act, however, prohibited the Government refunding more than $10,000 of the fees.
Mark and Judy were having lunch yesterday at The Australian Hotel in Ballina when they heard that Justice Wood had recommended the Attorney-General's Department pick up the tab for additional trial costs.
"We have been very upset about having to go through the trial again," Mr Richards said.
"But it is a relief to know costs are taken care of," said the house painter.
Judy Ennis remembers how difficult and costly it was going to Sydney for the trial.
"It went for six weeks around December, and another three in February," said the mother-of-four. "I just wish we didn't have to go through it again. It is a huge shock."
The extent to which expert evidence will have to be re-submitted will be up to the new judge, Jus- tice Hoeben.