Million dollar chair fall in ACT
A Canberra public servant has been awarded more payouts after she fell off a chair at work in 2002.
A 51-year-old woman was left lying on the floor in pain for up to 15 minutes after her plastic chair broke while working for the Community Information and Referral Service ACT in October 2002. Ms Terry Anne Downie said she felt a sharp ache at the time, later revealed to be a bulging disc which was in contact with a nerve root. Doctors told the court they believed that before the injury she already had asymptomatic degeneration in the lower spine consistent with her age.
The chair in question came under close scrutiny before the ACT Supreme court, with the importer, retailer and the importer's insurer all involved in the case. The Court heard the chair had been bought in kit-form from China, assembled in Australia and sold to Ms Downie’s employer.
An expert testified that the injection-moulded plastic sitting device suffered a catastrophic failure when two of five load-bearing spokes gave way.
ACT Supreme Court Master David Harper awarded Ms Downie $112,000 for past medical expenses as well as over $930,000 in further damages. Community Information and Referral Service ACT was awarded around $400,000 to cover costs.