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Student Injured in Building School Collapse

Tom Joyner reports on an accident at Usyd’s Business School.

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The University’s troubled Business School development is facing claims of negligence after a student was injured by a collapse of a temporary wall installed by the contractor. The student, who is now planning legal action against the building site contractor, John Holland, was injured when the wall collapsed on him during a storm in April, trapping him until he was helped by passers-by.

Will Allington was walking past the new Business School building site off Abercrombie Street on the evening of April 20 when a section of the wall swept up in the wind knocked him to the ground, fracturing his kneecap and very nearly hitting his head.

The incident left Allington in a cast and on crutches for three months, as well as running up significant medical, travel, education and income costs.

Allington’s solicitor, Denis Fitzpatrick, said he sent two letters to John Holland since April but both have yet gone unanswered, something he described as “unusual”.

“Whoever constructed that fence we will allege was negligent in either failing to properly construct the fence, failing to warn the public that the fence was unsafe, or failing to inspect the fence as to its structure and soundness, resulting in the fence falling over on my client,” he told Honi.

When contacted, a spokesperson for John Holland refused to comment on the matter.

The legal action comes at a difficult time for the project. As reported by Honi, a fire tore through parts of the Business School in June, leaving extensive damage to three floors of the building and contributing to the project’s ongoing delays.

The opening date of the school, part of the $180 million Abercrombie Precinct redevelopment, has been pushed back by seven months to semester one 2016. The string of setbacks raises questions about John Holland’s management of the site, though when asked they declined to give any official explanation for the delays.

Further, the troubled redevelopment comes as the University begins a construction binge, expected to significantly reshape the campus over the next few years. The binge comes as the University struggles to deal with over 500 items of backlog maintenance, as recently reported in Honi.

The University was unable to respond with comment in time for publication.

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