Education
University of New Mexico School of Law. Photo: Creative Commons/John Phelan University of New Mexico School of Law. Photo: Creative Commons/John Phelan  

Law student sues school after she fell out of a chair

In the event that you go to law school — maybe not the best idea — you will likely encounter Garratt v. Dailey early on in the first semester of torts.

In the famous 1955 case, five-year-old Brian Dailey pulled a lawn chair out from under Ruth Garratt just as she was about to sit down. Garratt fell down and broke her hip — and then sued the five-year-old.

Jennifer McCabe, a student at the University of New Mexico School of Law in Albuquerque, may or not have read Garratt v. Dailey, but she now has a chair-related case of her very own. And she’s the plaintiff.

McCabe allegedly suffered substantial injuries when the back of a law clinic chair in which she was sitting gave way, reports The Santa Fe New Mexican

According to the complaint, McCabe leaned back in the Steelcase Think Chairs and it collapsed. She got hurt as a result of all the rapid jerking she did trying to keep herself upright.

McCabe says she suffered a number of physical injuries and needed back surgery. She alleges that she now has a permanent disability as well.

The personal injury lawsuit filed in New Mexico state court by Taos lawyer Robert Crollett names UNM’s Board of Regents as a defendant. The other defendant is the office furniture company that sold and assembled the chair last year.

The complaint blames chair malfunction for McCabe’s injuries. It asserts that a missing bolt caused the body of the chair and the back rest to separate.

The local NBC affiliate, KOB, interviewed several UNM students (not necessarily law students) to get their take on McCabe’s lawsuit. The unanimous verdict seemed to be that the claim is frivolous.

“Only in America could you get away with something like that,” UNM student Suraj Bhatka told the station. “It’s ridiculous, that’s for sure. It’s just like you came up with an excuse to make money. It’s what it seems like.”

“It would be a tragedy for the school if tuition went up because of a case like this,” added another student, Kristin Padilla. “But, I mean, it sounds like kind of a ridiculous reason to make a lawsuit.”

An employee of the furniture company, Business Environments, told The New Mexican that a single Think Chair by Steelcase costs $650.

The University of New Mexico had no comment on the suit.

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