he Victorian workers’ compensation authority in Melbourne is seeking to claw back more than AUD 300,000 in damages from billionaire and former executive chairman of Crown Resorts, James Packer following the alleged assault of a security guard at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, reports The Age.
A case filed in Victoria’s Supreme Court on Monday reveals WorkCover, the state’s workers’ compensation scheme, has already paid a total of AUD 326,834.55 (USD 245,047.47) in compensation and medical costs to a former Crown security guard who accused Packer of assaulting him before threatening to have him fired on New Year’s Day in 2016.
The state-run WorkCover authority is now pursuing Packer and Crown to recover these costs, which it indicated would continue to grow.
The former security guard, Iskandar Chaban, alleges Packer became verbally abusive and threatening, ran towards him, pushed him in the chest, and said words to the effect, “I will throw you out of your job,” on New Year’s Day in 2016.
According to the statement of claim, Chaban says he did not recognize Crown’s former executive chairman as he approached the main gaming floor at Crown Towers Melbourne with senior colleague Ishan Ratnam. Chaban said he thought the executive may have been intoxicated at the time.
“The worker observed [Mr. Packer], a person previously unknown to the worker, approaching him and formed the view that [Mr. Packer] was intoxicated,” the writ says.
“[Mr. Packer] became verbally abusive and threatening towards the worker and ran towards the worker pushing him in the chest. [Mr. Packer] then verbally threatened the worker saying words to the effect, ‘I will throw you out of your job.’
“[Dr. Chaban] was subsequently escorted to an office where the management staff of the [Crown Melbourne Limited] verbally abused, humiliated, intimidated, and bullied the worker,” the writ added.
Chaban was then driven to Southern Cross Station. The then 60-year-old was later taken to Northern Hospital suffering neck and back injuries.
In December last year, Chaban named Packer and his then-employer, MSS Security, and Crown Resorts as defendants in a separate civil claim over the alleged altercation.
Carbone Lawyers partner John Karantzis, who represents Chaban, said at the time that his client continued to suffer stress, anxiety, and depression as a result of the conduct of Packer and the co-defendants.
“Our client’s life has been devastated by the events that transpired. Such conduct is unacceptable and must be addressed,” Karantzis said.
At the time, Crown casino dismissed the incident as “minor” and a “misunderstanding”. The guard physically blocked Packer’s entrance to the gaming area, causing a “collision”, the statement said.
In a statement from January 2016, Crown claimed it had attempted to alert Chaban that one of its “most important VIPs” was approaching, but the guard failed to recognize Packer.