Broken office chair incident leads to product liability complaint

Jon Campisi Oct. 24, 2011, 10:22am

A Pennsylvania couple has filed a product liability complaint against a furniture manufacturer, alleging the husband sustained serious and disabling injuries after the office chair on which he sat broke, sending the plaintiff crashing to the ground.

Philadelphia attorney Thomas R. Yorko filed the civil action Oct. 20 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Robert and Sharon Schmidenberg of Spring City, Pa.

The defendant named in the suit is Philadelphia-based Haworth, Inc.

According to the complaint, Robert Schmidenberg was working in the course of his employment with King of Prussia, Pa.-based CSI Commerce Inc. on June 8, 2010, when, while attending a meeting in a conference room, the metal swivel chair on which he sat collapsed to the floor, causing the plaintiff to sustain “permanent and painful injuries.”

As a result of the incident, the suit claims, Robert Schmidenberg was required to undergo medical treatment, which cost him financially, and he suffered disabilities that required him to take time off from work.

Schmidenberg may also have to undergo surgery sometime in the future to “correct or improve his chronic painful conditions.”

The most prominent injuries he suffered were herniated discs and spinal injuries, the suit claims.

The lawsuit contains counts of strict liability, malfunction, failure to warn, breach of warranty and negligent design.

For each of the counts listed, Schmidenberg seeks judgment in excess of $50,000.

Schmidenberg's wife has a spousal claim in the lawsuit, alleging that her husband’s accident has caused her to be deprived of his society, affection, services and companionship.

She claims she has been required to assume “all of the household and family responsibilities previously undertaken by her husband, in addition to her daily responsibilities of work and family,” the suit claims. Additionally, she has had to care for her husband while he recovers from his injuries.

She also demands judgment in excess of $50,000.

The non-jury matter has not yet been scheduled for arbitration.

The case number is 111002656.

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