While dining at the Warwick Farm Hungry Jacks outlet, Pierre
Matouk's steel stool collapsed beneath him causing him to fall
and suffer a serious back injury. Mr Matouk was taken by ambulance
to hospital where he was initially treated with pain medications
and discharged. As a result of his injuries and associated back and
shoulder pain, Mr Matouk has not been able to return to work as a
plumber's labourer since the date of the incident, 10 August
Mr Matouk commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW
seeking damages for personal injury.
In its judgement, the Court noted that the incident could have
been avoided if Hungry Jacks had regularly checked the stability of
the customer seating. Justice Matthews, quoting from a civil
engineer's report described the process adopted in constructing
the steel chairs at the centre of the dispute as "unusually
haphazard and somewhat eclectic".
Given Mr Matouk's pre-injury earnings were approximately
$50,000 a year, Justice Matthews was satisfied that Mr Matouk would
successfully recover damages of at least $100,000 from Hungry
Jacks. The Court ordered Hungry Jacks to pay Mr Matouk interim
damages of $35,000 and allowed him the right to pursue Hungry Jacks
Lesson to franchisors and franchisees
This interim decision highlights the risk to franchisees and
franchisors in failing to meet the requisite standard of care owed
to customers with respect to health and safety. Franchisors must
ensure that standard health and safety procedures and laws are
incorporated into franchise agreements and operations manuals.
These need to be entrenched in the franchised business to minimise
the risk of exposure of their business and damage to their brand.
Franchisees must adopt and implement these procedures and perform
thorough inspections of their premises on a regular basis.
Franchisors and franchisees are advised to confirm that they have
adequate public liability insurance and are well advised to
familiarise themselves and comply with all associated notification
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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