Freak paper-cut injuries nearly cost the life of the mother of an Insta-influencer. Now she’s suing a grocery giant and chip manufacturer.
Freak paper-cut injuries nearly cost the life of the mother of an Insta-influencer. Now she’s suing a grocery giant and chip manufacturer.

Insta-star’s mum cheats death of a thousand cuts

A QUEENSLAND mother almost died after small cuts on her fingers from unpacking boxes of chips at her supermarket job caused a staph infection that led to two rounds of open-heart surgery.

Kim Maree Irby is now suing Woolworths and the Queensland-based vege chip company.

Ms Irby told the court in an affidavit that she initially felt pain and swelling in her hand, which later morphed into whole-body aches and headaches.

The 51-year-old, who is the mother of Gold Coast bikini designer and Insta-famous model Karina Irby, claims when she went to hospital they performed blood tests for a suspected kidney infection and sent her home.

She said she was given antibiotics, but days later collapsed and was rushed back to hospital where she was diagnosed with a Staphylococcus infection, which spread throughout her body including her lungs, spine, behind her left eye and the valves in her heart.

When told she would need to have open heart surgery to fix damage to her heart Irby didn't know if she would survive, court documents state.

She had to wait one month for a mitral valve replacement because her private cover did not cover the cost.

In May 2017 she had the replacement surgery, then later she had further surgery, in October 2018.

Ms Irby, who now has a large scar down her chest, has been authorised to sue Woolworths and Currumbin-based The Vege Chip Company Pty Ltd for damages caused by the cuts suffered while building an in-store promotional display in April 2017.

Irby used her finger to open the serrated top of "hundreds of" boxes of chips at Woolworths stores in Helensvale, Pimpama and Ormeau, court documents state.

Kim Irby, 51, from Helensvale, with her daughter bikini designer Karina Irby, at the hospital.
Kim Irby, 51, from Helensvale, with her daughter bikini designer Karina Irby, at the hospital.

 

Kim Irby, 51, who had open heart surgery after she contracted a staph infection from a paper cut at work. Photo: Facebook.
Kim Irby, 51, who had open heart surgery after she contracted a staph infection from a paper cut at work. Photo: Facebook.

"The boxes ...you don't need a knife to open, they have a hole in the side around the size of a 10c piece, you put finger in, run finger around, the box opens and then put the contents on shelves," she stated, according to a workers compensation application filed in court documents.

The boxes she was unpacking were allegedly dirty and dusty from being placed in storage, court documents state.

On April 8 District Court Judge Paul Sheridan ordered Irby be allowed to launch her claim for damages for negligence in a separate District Court case.

Irby's lawyer Nicole Stewart told the court that the negligence claim could be for between $150,000 and $750,000, because Ms Irby was back earning an income after returning to work with modified duties.

Her claim against Woolworths will allege a failure to have a process in place to ensure boxes are clean and free from the risk of infection, and the claim against The Vege Chip Company will allege Ms Irby was not warned of the risk of infection through cuts while preparing the boxes for display.

A negligence claim has now been filed against Woolworths and The Vege Chip Company but no date has been set for hearing, court records show.

She was approved to receive workers compensation for the injury after an independent doctor ruled that work was the major significant factor, court documents state.

Originally published as Insta-star's mum cheats death of a thousand cuts



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