£275,000 damages for woman hurt during corporate bonding exercise

8 May 2000

A saleswoman from Country Durham who developed epilepsy after banging her head when she was forced to dress up as a Sumo wrestler in a "corporate bonding" evening has been awarded £275,000 damages.

Anne Shackley, 44, banged her head on a concrete floor after losing her balance during the mock bout. After losing consciousness she developed epilepsy after the incident.

Mrs Shackley said she had not wanted to take part in the contest arranged by her employers DePuy International, a Leeds-based medical supply firm. But she was pressured to dress up "like the Michelin man" which had caused her to topple over, the court was told.

The High Court in Newcastle awarded Mrs Shakley compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of earnings, loss of a company car and any care needed for her.

The incident occurred in January 1995, when she went to Weetwood Hall, Leeds, for a conference and corporate bonding activity evening where workmates took part in various sports. Mrs Shackley said she did not want to participate, but the court heard how it was made clear to her that this was part of the corporate culture.

Judge Michael Taylor said "She was provided with clothing that made her look like the Michelin man. She engaged in Sumo wrestling with one of her workmates. She fell and struck her head. I'm satisfied there is only one possible conclusion to draw. That is that the epilepsy was caused by the fall on the floor and blow to the head."