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Claim for Injury from Chair at Work Resolved in Court

A woman from Canberra in Australia, who made a compensation claim for an injury from a chair at work, has had her claim resolved in court for more than AU$1 million.

Terry Anne Downie was a team leader for the Australian Capital Territory Community Information and Referral Service when, in June 2002, she bought furniture for her office from Fyshwick – an ex-government furniture outlet store – including the chair which she was going to use at work.

In October 2002, Terry Anne was using the telephone while sitting on the chair, when two of the plastic supports at the base of the chair snapped and she fell to the floor. A co-worker aid that she heard a loud crack and, when she turned around to see what had happened, witnessed Terry Anne struggling on the floor unable to get up.

Terry Anne was taken to hospital, where it was found that a disc swollen by the accident at work was in contact with a nerve root in her spine. Doctors were unable to repair the damage and Terry Anne – now 51 years old – consequently suffers from ongoing pain and has developed a mental illness, sexual dysfunction and a permanent tingling sensation under the skin of her legs.

Terry Anne was paid Au$190,000 in worker´s compensation in 2005 after making a claim for an injury from a chair at work against her employer, but she also made a private claim for accident injury compensation against the company that imported the chair from China – Jantom – claiming that the product was faulty when it was delivered in kit form to Fyshwick.

The Community Information and Referral Service also made a claim against Jantom to recover the compensation for an injury from a chair at work they had already paid to Terry Anne and, at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, Judge Master David Harper ruled in favour of Terry Anne and her former employers after hearing expert testimony that the plastic moulding on the base of the chair had failed and caused two of the five supporting spokes to break.

The judge awarded Terry Anne Au$933,030 compensation in settlement of her claim for an injury from a chair at work, plus a further Au$112,000 to cover past, present and future medical expenses. Announcing the verdict, Master David Harper said “Terry Anne has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury. Her enjoyment of life, and the kind of life she is able to lead, have been altered immeasurably.”