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Accident Compensation Cases

Howard v Accident Compensation Corporation (DC, 17/01/06)

Judgment Text

DECISION OF JUDGE J. CADENHEAD ON PARTLY ORAL AND WRITTEN APPLICATIONS FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL 
Judge J. Cadenhead
The Outline and Course of the Hearing 
[1]
Leaves to appeal in this jurisdiction over many years have been heard on the papers by a Judge, who is independent of the actual decision. Both parties address the Court by written memorandum and outline their relative contentions concerning the points of law to be stated. This procedure has operated smoothly and efficiently. Generally speaking it is relatively easy to identify the relevant points of law that are in contest between the parties and to come to a decision as to whether those points of law should be stated for consideration by the High Court. I regret to say that this has not proved the case in this instance, and I have found the process of examining the relevant points of law difficult to isolate and the writing of this decision is more lengthy than I would have desired. 
[2]
It has taken me well over a week to endeavour to master the relevant issues decided by essentially three appeals: one appeal by Judge Barber and the other of two appeals by Judge Ongley. These appeals in turn subdivide down into appeals against review officers. Judge Barber confronted four such appeals in his decision and Judge Ongley confronted two appeals in each of his two decisions. 
[3]
In addition the files contain a blizzard of e-mails and letters sent by the appellant concerning the process of his appeals. There are numerous complaints to the Registry, about the respondent and about the respective Judges. The appellant has alleged bias against Judge Ongley and has complained of Judge Barber. Both Judges have now disqualified themselves from further involvement in cases concerning the appellant. In addition to the appeals themselves there have been interlocutory rulings and directions made from time to time as to issues of discovery, the calling of witnesses and the definition of issues. I attach to this decision the ruling of Judge Ongley prior to his hearing his appeal, as it is relevant to the allegations made against his decision for want of process. It should be noted that the respondent has sworn and filed two affidavits of documents. On reflection this was probably not necessary, but it has been a concession to the appellant concerning his allegations of unfair process. 
[4]
Further, the appellant made applications for a rehearing or a recall of the decisions under attack. Judge Barber disqualified himself from dealing with either the rehearing or the recall of his decision and a rehearing of that decision was carried out by Judge Ongley, who did not grant it. An application was made to me in respect to the decision of Judge Ongley and I came to the view that I had no jurisdiction to grant a rehearing at the appellate level. This decision of mine has been stated as a question of law to the High Court. Judge Ongley considered the issue of a recall, but declined to recall his decision. 
[5]
The appellant applied for an oral hearing on the issue of leave to appeal, which had come before me. With the consent of the parties I welcomed the opportunity to hear oral argument, because it would enable me to somehow master the torrent of detail and refine the issues of law that needed to be stated. However, unfortunately this was not the case. 
The oral hearing of 6 December 2005 
[6]
I came down to Wellington on 6 December 2005 after having set a day aside for the hearing of oral argument. I might say that the instigation of having an oral argument was that of the appellant. Through no fault of his the appellant arrived late, and I accepted his apology. However, he advised me that he could only be present until 2 p.m. as he had a commitment to appear that day as a Father Christmas. 
[7]
As can be seen the raft of submissions and allegations needed to be carefully sifted through and by 1 p.m. it was obvious that there was insufficient time for this purpose. I advised the appellant that I was prepared to sit until 7 p.m., if necessary. He said that he had a prior engagement and that he was satisfied for me to deal with the issues on the papers. He said that he had requested an oral hearing, as principally he wished to see what I was like. He said it would not matter if I did not grant leave as he would apply to the High Court, in that eventuality. 
[8]
Most of the time was spent listening to the appellant. He conceded that I had been courteous and had listened to him. He said that he did not think that the arguments would have taken that long. He endeavoured to cut short the submissions of the respondent. 
[9]
At the end of the day, because of the time-imposed constraints by the appellant, to a large extent the benefits of oral argument were lost. I then timetabled the matter and required that the respondent submit part of its argument that had been cut short within three days and I gave the appellant three days after receipt of this argument in which to reply. 
[10]
I should record that apart from my meeting with the appellant on 6 December 2005 I have never ever seen or met the appellant. With the background of the accusations of bias against the other Judges I have done everything possible to accommodate the requests of the appellant, but in defence of myself I record what has taken place. 
The format of this decision 
[11]
Because of the difficulties in isolating from the detail of the appellant's submissions the points of law for refinement and classification I found it useful to constantly refer to the decisions under question. I, therefore, have set out each of these decisions in this decision and broken them down into the issues in contention. I have then endeavoured to extract the contentions of the appellant and finally arrive at a decision as to whether that part of the decision analysed raised proper questions for consideration by the High Court. For the sake of economy I have not set out the detailed submissions of the respondent. I acknowledge at once that I have only been able to set out what I perceive is the thrust of the appellant's submissions regarding the part of the decision under attack. 
Legal Principles 
[12]
I have regard to the observations of Fisher J in Kenyon v ACC 2002 [NZAR] 385, 390: 
“[13]
Sections 89 and 90 of the 1992 Act gave a claimant the right to a review hearing in respect of any decision of the Corporation. From the decision of the Review Officer there was a right of appeal by way of rehearing, with respect to both facts and law, to the District Court, pursuant to ss 91 and 92. From the decision of the District Court there was a limited right of appeal to this Court pursuant to s 97(1) which provided: 
‘Where any party is dissatisfied with any decision of a District Court under this Act as being erroneous in point of law, that party may, with the leave of that District Court, appeal to the High Court: 
Provided that, if the District Court refuses to grant leave to appeal to the High Court, the High Court may grant special leave to appeal. ’”
[14]
It is agreed that pursuant to the transitional provisions in s 453 of the Accident Insurance Act 1998, those 1992 appeal provisions continue to govern the present case. 
[15]
In his helpful submissions Mr Corkhill summarised the effect of the authorities relating to special leave as follows: 
(a)
The purpose of requiring leave for certain appeals is to ensure that scarce judicial time is allocated sensibly: Sandle v Stewart [1982] 1 NZLR 708 (CA). 
(b)
Although it is ultimately a matter for the discretion of the Court, it will normally be necessary to show that there is an issue of principle at stake or that a considerable amount hinges on the decision, and that there is a reasonable prospect of success: Sandle, Manawatu Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd v Lawry, [1988] DCR 509, Brown v Chow Mein Fashions Ltd (1993) 7 PRNZ 43
(c)
The fact that special leave is required is significant and suggests that leave ought not to be granted as a matter of course: O'Loughlin v Healing Industries Ltd (1990) 2 PRNZ 464
(d)
It is for the Applicant to show that leave is required in the interests of justice: Avery v No 2 Public Service Appeal Board [1973] 2 NZLR 86 (CA). 
(e)
As leave has already been refused by the District Court, however, there will normally have to be some extraordinary factor which has not been properly taken into account: Brown v Chow Mein Fashions Ltd
I am grateful for that summary, and agree with it. ”
[13]
Leave should not be given if the issue is not capable of bona fide and serious argument: Impact Manufacturing Ltd v ARCIC (High Court Wellington AP 266/00, 6/7/2001, Doogue J.) Again, the requirement of leave is to ensure that scarce judicial time is allocated sensibly: Tohu v ACC (High Court Auckland CIV 2003/404/469, 12/11/2003). Further the observations of Gendall J in Wardle v ACC (AP 134/02 Wellington High Court 27 February 2003) are relevant to the applications for leave here: 
“[5]
The principles to be applied on applications for granting leave to bring what is ultimately a third appeal are clearly stated in Waller v Hider [1998] 1 NZLR 412 (CA) and reviewed in Snee v Snee [2000] NZFLR 120 (CA). They need no elaboration by me. For leave to be granted the matter must raise some question of law or fact capable of bona fide and serious argument in a case involving some interest, public or private, of sufficient importance to outweigh the cost and delay of further appeal. In the end the guiding principle is the requirement of justice. …  
[8]
It is well known that if a point is academic and there does not exist between these parties a matter in actual controversy which the Court of Appeal ought to decide, then leave should not be granted. That is because no useful purpose would be served as between these parties: see, for example, Finnigan v N.Z.R.F.U.(No 3) [1985] 2 NZLR 190. In my view only the first question is a matter of law but the applicant does not raise a bona fide and serious argument so as to require a case to be stated for the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a question of law only given the consistent decisions of this Court. This is not the sort of case that should take up the time of the Court of Appeal. ”
[14]
I set these dicta out as they have proved a valuable guide in deciding the question of whether leave should be given in the present case. I have endeavoured to apply these principles to the issues that have confronted me. 
The Decision of Judge Barber Under No. 154/05 Delivered on 13 May 2005 
[15]
The decision of Judge Barber under No. 154/2005 on 13 May 2005 sets out the background to these applications for leave to appeal: 
“The appellant has had, and is having, a number of disputes with the respondent and this decision will deal with four of them under Appeal nos. 305/03, 658/03, 660/03 and 339/04 respectively. At the hearing before me, the appellant withdrew Appeal No 661/03. 
In July 1989 the appellant suffered a cut to his right middle finger while at home opening a can of sardines and has developed carpal tunnel syndrome secondary to that injury. He was granted cover and received various entitlements. Happily, the appellant recently had very successful surgery on the hand with the surgeon using a vein rapping technique to protect the nerve which has been causing much pain to the appellant. However, for some years the disputes between the parties seem to have generally related to the appellant having sought rehabilitation assistance since about 1994. There seems to have been a suspension of weekly compensation as at 28 November 1990 which was reinstated to 12 October 1994, and another such suspension of entitlement in 2002. The latter suspension was because the appellant would not meet with the respondent and that ground was upheld in this Court on appeal. There seems to have been reinstatement in July 2004. ”
Appeal Number A1 305/03 - Alleged Delay by Respondent 
[16]
In respect to appeal number AI 305/03 Judge Barber said: 
“The relevant review hearing was heard at Greymouth on 29 April 2003 by Reviewer A J Vivian who gave a written decision on 30 May 2003. This dealt with the issue whether there had been an unreasonable delay by the respondent in actioning the appellant's specific request for social rehabilitation needs from about January 2001 due to the said finger injury. The appellant had asked for assessments for aids and appliances, home help, modifications to the home, transport for independence and communication and education support. The Reviewer concluded that the appellant had no such entitlements, had also not provided activity records and other material relating to an individual rehabilitation plan, and that the issues had been determined previously. Accordingly, the Reviewer declined jurisdiction. 
[4]
Since January 2001 the respondent has been endeavouring to assess the appellant's needs in terms of his said application but seems to have found it difficult to meet with the appellant to ascertain what his needs and entitlements may be. 
[5]
For present purposes, background can start from 4 December 2002 when the respondent received an application from the appellant for social rehabilitation of a non specific type which did not identify any specific need. On 12 December 2002 (only 8 days later) the respondent received an application for review claiming unreasonable delay in the respondent's processing of the said 4 December 2002 claim for social rehabilitation. 
[6]
On 13 and 20 December 2002 the respondent wrote to the appellant seeking to meet him about his appropriate requirements and entitlement. On 23 December 2002 the respondent wrote again to the appellant advising that it was unable to make a decision on entitlements for social rehabilitation until the appellant had provided daily activity notes (previously sought) and had met with his case manager as required in letters of 12 and 27 August 2002 from respondent to appellant. The respondent also required that a referral for assessment with Pain Management Services at Burwood Hospital be included in the appellant's individual rehabilitation plan. 
[7]
That plan was finally entered into in May 2003. 
[8]
After litigation in June 2003 the appellant provided daily activity notes to the respondent and a further IRP was agreed in July 2003. This included an agreement that the respondent fund a social rehabilitation assessment for home help/equipment to establish the appellant's needs around the home in relation to the limitations caused by his injury. The target date for that assessment 29 August 2003. It was expected that the respondent would be able to obtain a report from Burwood Pain Clinic prior to 29 August 2003, but the appellant cancelled his appointment for such an assessment without reference to the respondent. 
[9]
Of course, I cannot presently deal with the issue of the appellant's needs because there has been no evidence or argument about that substantive issue. 
The Statute 
[10]
Section 134(1)(b) of the 2001 Act provides that a claimant may apply for a review of ‘any delay in processing the claim for entitlement that the claimant believes is an unreasonable delay’. A ‘claim’ is defined in the interpretation provision of the Act (s 6) as a ‘claim under s 48’ which provides: 
A
person who wishes to claim under the Act must lodge a claim with the Corporation for …  
(a)
(b)
Cover, and a specified entitlement, for his or her personal injury …  
[11]
Section 54 of the Act requires the respondent to make decisions ‘on a claim on reasonable grounds, and in a timely manner having regard to the requirements of this Act, the nature of the decision, and all the circumstances’
[12]
Section 55 provides for responsibilities on a claimant who lodges an application for an entitlement pursuant to s 48 of the Act. These responsibilities include undergoing any assessment reasonably required by the respondent and providing ‘any other relevant information required by it’. Section 75 of the Act contemplates that the provisions of social rehabilitation will be pursuant to an individual rehabilitation plan. Section 77 provides that an IRP must identify a claimant's needs for rehabilitation, the assessments to be done, and the services appropriate to the needs. Section 81 provides the respondent's liability to provide social rehabilitation and s 84 provides for the assessment of the need for social rehabilitation. The Act also provides that, in considering whether to provide or what to provide in the form of rehabilitation, the service is to be cost effective. ”
Reasons for Decision On Appeal A1305/03 
“[13]
The appellant's said application of 4 December 2002 for social rehabilitation did not identify in any meaningful way just what social rehabilitation he thought might be appropriate. At all material times, the respondent has persistently sought meaningful information which might indicate with some precision what the appellant seeks or what might be appropriate or what might justify investigation by assessment. 
[14]
The respondent puts it that the appellant would not provide adequate information, nor even meet with staff of the respondent to discuss his needs and would not provide rudimentary information as to his incapacity needs. It seems to me that the appellant's bland application for every available form of social rehabilitation is insufficient for the respondent to proceed to assessment. Of course, in terms of the respondent's duty to be cost effective in the provision of services, to engage assessors for all the different types of social rehabilitation entitlements which the appellant applied for would incur significant cost in the absence of prima facie justification for such assessments. 
[15]
As indicated, it was only consequential to this Court's 19 June 2003 decision regarding the appellant that the appellant was unreasonably refusing to provide daily activity notes and meet with the respondent that such notes have been provided. It is only since May 2003 that the appellant has agreed to enter into an IRP and, even then, he cancelled the referral to the said Pain Clinic (but attended in October 2003). 
[16]
I can understand the submission for the respondent that there has been no unreasonable delay by it in processing the appellant's claim for social rehabilitation in all the circumstances. 
[17]
In his submissions, the appellant referred to the said successful vein wrapping surgery of 15 November 2004 and also to an occupational specialist, Dr Xiong, having first identified the appellant's chronic regional pain syndrome in January 2002. The appellant noted that he had attended the Burwood Hospital Pain Unit in October 2003 which resulted in immediate treatment with six different drug medications. 
[18]
Inter alia, the appellant referred to his having provided the respondent on 20 August 2002 with a written list of functional limitations which, the appellant says, was ignored. He put it that the thrust of the respondent's case is outlined at page 4 of the said review decision where the Reviewer states ‘ … in essence ACC concluded that it did not have a liability to provide social rehabilitation as an IRP had not been agreed to’. The appellant submits that the respondent prepared and provided a requested draft IRP dated 8 May 2002 but failed to include a s 77(3)(a) assessment of social rehabilitation needs in it which according to Weir v ACC (High Court Wellington, 18.8.04, per Justice Miller) the respondent is obliged to do. 
[19]
The appellant referred to the respondent's 6 August 2002 letter to him as stating: ‘I note that you believe that you have social rehabilitation need(s) that should be assessed. 1 will arrange for assessments of your social rehabilitation needs. Services will be provided to you on the basis of your assessed need’. However, the appellant says that the respondent has failed to arrange for those needs of assessments for which he is still waiting in respect of aids and appliances (e.g. a bidet), modifications to his home, transport for independence, communication and education support. The appellant emphasises that he is requesting ‘ … nothing more than assessments. Until needs assessments are done, neither the respondent nor myself will know if there is any entitlement’
[20]
Standing back and absorbing all the papers relevant to this issue, it does seem that since January 2001 the respondent has been genuinely trying to put an IRP in place regarding the appellant and to pursue social rehabilitation and to proceed with work and medical assessments as a first step to vocational independence. However there seems to have been ongoing litigation and non-co-operation from the appellant who simply would not come to the respondent's office in Greymouth to progress matters; nor would he permit the respondent's staff to call on him at his home. He would not even supply a note of his daily activities so that the respondent staff could begin to ascertain the appellant's needs. 
[21]
Nevertheless, I understand that from late 2004 a particular case-manager of the respondent has been able to create a good rapport with the appellant so that social rehabilitation has been commenced and, on 4 November 2004, there was an assessment of the appellant's needs for a car and, any modification to such a car. 
[22]
There has been no unreasonable delay on the part of the respondent in processing the appellant's claim for social rehabilitation. This appeal No AI 305/03 is hereby dismissed. ”
The Rehearing by Judge Ongley Under Decision Number 249/2005 Dated 15 August 2005 
[17]
Judge Ongley in a decision dated 15 August 2005 noted that he was required to hear a rehearing application and recall of this judgment as the appellant had lodged a complaint against Judge Barber. In respect to the section 77 needs assessment Judge Ongley said that the relevant finding under attack needed to be identified along with the particular evidence that had been overlooked. He said that there was nothing of that sort in the application so far as it related to the section 77 needs assessment. 
[18]
The Court had made its findings in the usual way based on the broad classification of admissible evidence under section 156 of the Act. He said that the Judge's findings were, in the main, that the Corporation acted correctly and its conduct was not unlawful. He, also, said: 
“Dealing with the question of defamatory material. The Judge was required to assess the weight an reliability of evidentiary material admissible on the appeal. In doing so he was obliged to give reasons why he accepted some evidence and why he accepted some consequent submissions concerning the finding of facts based on evidence. In giving reasons, a court is often obliged to characterise the conduct of a litigant or witness when weighing the evidence. Not to do so can in some cases be criticised on the ground of failing to give reasons. The Judge's views may be unwelcome but that is just part of the litigation process. 
In this case, the Judge did make comments about Mr Howard's conduct of his communications with the Corporation. With respect, these comments appear to me to be reasonably restrained and balanced. In the second part of paragraph [37] the Judge commented on Mr Howard having proved difficult for the Corporation to communicate with, but he also said ‘I note that, for me, he appeared a helpful and sensible person who is co-operating with the staff of the respondent.’
Other paragraphs of the judgment, to which Mr Howard referred in the present application, contain the Judge's view of the facts that he found established by the evidence. If the Judge found the respondent was doing its best to provide rehabilitation, that was a view he was entitled to reach on the evidence. Mr Howard says that the respondent was not doing its best and that the Judge was wrong. A rehearing cannot be obtained on the basis of mere assertion in that way. ”
The Submissions of the Appellant 
[19]
The appellant has submitted that the facts as stated by Judge Barber are prejudicial, untrue, incomplete or misleading. The Judge failed to take into account that the appellant was being required to meet and negotiate and agree to an IRP before any assessments of needs was done. His submission is that neither social nor vocational rehabilitation needs assessments were arranged in accordance with the statutory provisions. These assessments have to be made by special assessors. 
[20]
The appellant contends that Judge Barber was wrong in his factual findings as to dates and did not give enough weight to difficulties that the appellant was experiencing at Branch level with the relevant officials. It is submitted that the correct date for lodging a social rehabilitation claim was 15 August 2002 and not 4 December as found by Judge Barber. 
Decision 
[21]
In my view the attack of the appellant is directed substantially at showing that Judge Barber erred in fact. I am of the view, that Judge Barber asked himself the correct legal questions and came to his view that there had been no substantial delay on the part of the respondent after a consideration of the facts. 
[22]
The appellant has endeavoured to have a rehearing of these factual issues, but to no avail. In my view there is no appropriate questions of law arising from this decision to state to the High Court. Leave to apply to the High Court is refused. 
Appeal Number 658/03 
[23]
Judge Barber said in relation to appeal No. 658/03: 
“[23]
The appellant puts it that this appeal relates to a Reviewer declining jurisdiction because he considered that a 1997 memorandum from the respondent, which was not disclosed to the appellant until 26 April 2001, was not a decision. 
[24]
The appellant notes the respondent's submission that the said memorandum is an internal memorandum from its Greymouth branch to its Dunedin Service Centre sent in October 1997 which is no more than a summary or expression of opinion on the current status of this particular claim of the appellant. 
[25]
The appellant made a number of submissions that the memorandum is a decision. He put it that the purport of the memorandum is that the respondent has determined that the appellant was no longer within the category of claimant entitled to rehabilitation assistance, and submits that amounts to a decision. The appellant also put it that the memorandum determined whether the respondent would provide entitlements ‘which it intentionally determined not to provide’
[26]
The appellant submits that the appellant has never received reasons why the respondent determined that the appellant was unable to be rehabilitated. 
[27]
The appellant concludes his written submissions on this appeal as follows: ‘It is to be noted that I applied for vocational rehabilitation assistance in 1994 which was ultimately ignored by the respondent following reinstatement of earnings related compensation after the respondent had ignored the medical evidence between 1990 and 1994 and closed the file until an internal case review was conducted in 1994 due to ongoing problems from the accident and injury. … ’ 
[28]
I incorporate Mr Barnett's helpful submissions into my reasoning below. 
Reasons for Decisions Re Appeal 658/03 
[29]
The appellant claims that the said ACC memorandum of October 1997 is a reviewable decision. In his decision of 20 November 2003, the Review Officer also -held that he had no jurisdiction to consider this matter because the application for review was out of time. 
[30]
In any case the October 1997 memorandum is an internal one from the Greymouth branch of the Corporation to its own Dunedin Service Centre. The memorandum simply reads: 
‘Name John Howard - Category type: “non-rehab.57 years” - Issues of significance “no chance of rehab. - many ministerials, reviews, complaints through duration of claim - low priority - maintenance only”. Summary completed by Mrs Sherie Jenkins, Case Manager, Greymouth. ’”
[31]
At the time this memorandum was issued the 1992 Act applied and, under s 67 of that Act, the respondent was required to give the claimant notice in writing of a decision, reasons for its decision, and information about rights of review. However, the memorandum is not a decision in either form or substance. It is not advice to the claimant. It is not in respect of an application for an entitlement made by the claimant. It is not a determination of the respondent concerning the claimant's summary or expression of opinion on the part of the case manager about the current status of the claim file with a view to assisting the Dunedin Service Centre. 
[32]
In any case, the matter of considering the appellant's rehabilitation needs and entitlements is current. The respondent is pursuing rehabilitation options for the appellant. What was said in 1997 is in the irrelevant past. It seems to me that the respondent is doing its best to achieve the appellant's rehabilitation. 
[33]
This Appeal Number 658/03 is hereby dismissed. ”
The Submssions of the Appellant 
[24]
The appellant submits that the memorandum shows the respondent's policies operating at the time and that the memorandum was a decision under section 67(2) of the 1992, because it was a determination made by the respondent in respect of the appellant's claim. The appellant alleges that the memorandum was discriminatory of him. 
[25]
The appellant submits that “decision” is not defined in the 1992 Act. 
Decision 
[26]
I am of the view that clearly the memorandum is no more than that. It is in neither substance nor form a decision and this was a question of fact that was determined by Judge Barber. Factually this was an internal memorandum and the issues about it cannot be elevated into questions of law. For these reasons I do not give leave to state this decision to the High Court, as there is no appropriate question of law. 
Appeal Number 660/03 
[27]
Judge Barber stated his reasons and conclusion concerning appeal No. 660/03 as follows: 
“[34]
This appeal is against a review decision of 20 November 2003 declining jurisdiction to review a 27 June 2003 IRP for the appellant on the grounds that it is not a reviewable decision. The relevant IRP was formulated during the currency of the 2001 Act. Since the said review decision, the High Court has held in Weir v ACC that an IRP formulated pursuant to the 2001 Act is a reviewable decision and, of course, the respondent accepts that clarification of the law. Accordingly, there is jurisdiction for the Review Officer to hear the said review application which I could now refer back to the Review Officer for hearing. 
[35]
At material times, the appellant's concern seemed to be that, despite his meeting with staff of the respondent on 17 June 2003, the respondent failed to include any social rehabilitation needs assessment in the 27 June 2003 plan apart from a home-help assessment. 
[36]
The respondent now puts it that events have overtaken this situation because the parties have entered into a new IRP which, inter alia, addresses social rehabilitation so there is little point in my referring this matter back to the Review Officer for hearing. The appellant disagrees and puts it that the IRP was simply not modified to include home help from a 26 June 2004 needs assessment being a meal preparation board, pot stabilisers, suction brushes, an electric can opener, a chopping board, different kinds of jar openers and a bottom wiper. The appellant also says: ‘We have paid for other rehabilitation equipment, including electric knives, a computer with voice activated software, a change of car in 1990 with electric windows and power steering and various other sundry items of equipment. Throughout the duration of my claim we estimate that we have spent $20,000 of our own money on social and vocational rehabilitation equipment.’ 

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