Is Berkshire Bed Company responsible for Ms Busby’s broken back?
The case of Busby -v- Berkshire Bed Company Ltd Pt Hd, currently being heard in the High Court, is getting a lot of press coverage at present, with some quite eye catching headlines. Examples include:
“Mum, 46, left paralysed after being ‘catapulted’ from super-king bed during sex with partner sues for £1m – The Sun”
“Woman paralysed after being ‘catapulted’ off bed during sex – BBC”.
There are other publications and other headlines. With the maxim ‘sex sells’, it was inevitable that given the circumstances of the case, the media would focus on the more titillating details. However strip away the ‘sex’ aspect of the case and you are left with a potential claim for personal injuries which I understand has arisen from a defective product claim.
From the limited information available in press reports, Ms Busby alleges that the bed, made up of two halves of a divan, was not properly fastened together and two “gliders” – or feet – were missing from the end of the bed. This created a height difference and when Ms Busby expected the mattress/bed to support her weight it didn’t and she continued moving “backwards and downwards”. This movement caused her to fall off, landing in such a way that she sustained a serious spinal injury and is now paralysed. The Defendant in the case maintains the bed was properly assembled and that the cause of the action was Ms Busby losing her balance and toppling backwards.
Liability aside, Ms Busby has been left with a life changing spinal cord injury. An injury which will impact dramatically on every single aspect of her life from the type of car she can drive to the type of property she can live in. She is likely to have lifelong care needs as a result, not to mention the impact it will have had on her family’s life and the lives of her four children.
When approached by new clients I often advise them that ‘every case is different’ and that each case ‘turns on its facts’. This is a good example of such a case. Indeed Ms Busby’s barrister, during the course of the hearing, is reported as accepting that “the particular circumstances of the accident are unusual”.
However, this case demonstrates that ‘unusual’ doesn’t mean impossible.
At some point after the accident Ms Busby sought legal advice and the fact that the case is currently being heard in the High Court is indicative that her solicitors considered there to be sufficient prospects. In due course His Honour, Judge Cotter QC, will hand down his judgment in this case and at that point I will revisit the case to review the outcome.
Spinal cord injuries can occur in a variety of ways not all of which are obviously negligent. This case serves to highlight the importance of anyone who suffers a spinal cord injury or other catastrophic injury as a result of any type of accident, seeking legal advice from specialist solicitors, no matter how unusual (or uncomfortable) the circumstances.