A woman has been awarded compensation from her employer, the Community Information and Referral Service in the Australian Capital Territory, after her office chair collapsed. She suffered permanent back damage as a result of the accident, which occurred in 2002.

Terry Anne Downie (51) of Canberra, Australia, fell to the floor when the chair collapsed beneath her. Following an investigation into how to chair failed, it was discovered that a plastic moulding at the base of the chair suffered catastrophic failure as a result of two spokes at the base of the chair breaking.

Emergency services were notified and Terry Anne was taken to hospital. After receiving medical attention, scans of her back revealed that as a consequence of the incident, a disc in her spine bulged, causing it to come into contact with a nerve root. She stills suffers sciatica and pain in her lower back to this day.

Workers compensation was granted to Terry Anne from her employer. Terry Anne, due to her continued discomfort, also made a personal injury claim for compensation eleven years after the incident. The claim was made against the company who imported the chair assembly kit from China, Jantom. A further claim was made against the retailer Fyshwick who assembled the chair to sell to her employer.

Both companies denied liability for Terry Anne’s injuries as a results of her workplace accident. However, a judgement was passed down by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court that found the import company Jantom and its insurance provider liable to pay Terry Anne Downie a sum of Au$933,030 in compensation for the injury sustained. A further Au$112,000 special damages was awarded to cover the costs of her medical care.

Her employer, the Community Information and Referral Service was also rewarded Au$441,911 as a result of the compensation that had been paid to Terry Anne since her accident.

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