Most people don’t think twice about jumping into their bed and getting comfy, especially after a long day at work. A person’s bed is usually both their haven and sanctuary – emphasis on the “usually.”
As such, Claire Busby learned the hard way when she was catapulted from her bed while she was having sex with her partner. The accident was so serious that Busby ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair for life. Then the legal proceedings began.
One of Five
Busby had heard great things about the Berkshire Bed Company that came highly recommended to her. The 46-year-old mother from Maidenhead, Berks in the U.K., ordered five new beds from the company when she renovated her home. The beds were comfortable enough, and Busby and her family had no complaints about them at all. Then, the most curious thing happened which would change Busby’s life forever.
We all do it, although some people are more embarrassed about it than others. However, on this particular night, Busby was in her bed with a male partner, and the two were having sex. Busby explained that she was on her knees at one point but then swung her legs back under her body to change position. It was at that point that she was catapulted by the defective bed into the air then onto the floor.
As soon as Busby changed position, along with her partner, John Marshall, the bed allegedly gave way, and she fell off the end, landing dangerously on her head. In court, Busby explained to Judge Barry Cotter: “I was positioned kneeling over him,” she said. “I was kneeling over him, and my right hand was touching him, maybe my left hand was touching his leg. I was half way down the bed,” she explained.
Busby explained further: “I spun around, I put my hand down and then I felt like I was catapulted off the back of the bed,” she told the court. “My head hit the floor, I fell to the side, and then I heard like a spring in my body snap.” According to her, the two halves of the divan bed which made up the base were not fastened together properly, nor were the two “gliders” or feet. This caused a height difference in the bed, according to a report in The Guardian.
Busby’s attorney, Winston Hunter, told the court that his client had reasonably expected her bed to support her weight as it had done since she bought it. However, he explained, when she laid back the bed gave way, leaving Busby falling “backward and downwards.” Hunter explained in more detail that the bed was faulty and that is why his client is now paralyzed.
Hunter explained to the judge: “It is the claimant’s case that the point at which she left the bed is precisely the location where the different height of the two divans was at its maximum.” He said. “It represented the area where the mattress was most likely to ‘fall away’ due to the fact that it was partially unsupported.” Even though Hunter accepted that it was a freak accident, he still believes there is room for legal recourse.
Hunter said that while he “accepted that the particular circumstances of the accident are unusual,” he also felt that there had been “some foresight of some loss of balance in the use of the bed.” That’s why it’s his contention that the bed makers are liable and should be brought to justice. However, the company denies any liability.
The Berkshire Bed Company’s – trading as “Beds Are Uzzz,” (pictured) – defense rests with the fact that they claim the bed was properly installed and fitted at the time of delivery. They also contend that even if the two gliders were missing at the time of the accident, this would have no impact on the bed losing balance and catapulting Ms. Busby into the air. The company’s defense team then had their time in court to offer their side.
As Neil Block said for the defense: “It is overwhelmingly likely that, whatever her actions, they were too close to the edge of the bed and she simply lost balance and toppled backward.” That claim is not unreasonable and as freak accidents can happen anywhere at any time the company feels that they cannot be held responsible for what happened to one of their customers.
The court documents showed that Mr. Marshall had been married to his wife Susan for more than 20 years. However, they had been officially divorced just a few days before the tragic incident took place with Busby. The High Court heard how Marshall met Busby during a trip to Spain in the month of the accident and that the pair had kept in contact following their return to the U.K.
When Marshall spoke in court under cross-examination, he was keen to confirm that he had never cheated on his wife of 20 years, and that when the incident happened with Busby, he was officially divorced from his wife. Things only moved to the next level between Busby and Marshall after they attended the Chelsea Flower Show in London in May, according to court documents.
May to August
Marshall said in court: “When that incident happened we were separated, I was not with Susan at the time and I want to make that very clear. Susan and I separated in May, and the incident happened in August.” He added, “All this is dragging things up unnecessarily, my life is bad enough and so is Claire’s.” But no one is particularly concerned with the details of his divorce, rather the circumstances that lead to the tragic injury of Claire Busby.
There was some controversy though in court as the questioning turned to Marshall’s actions at the time. While Marshall’s lawyer, Tony Caplin, also said the relationship started after his client was divorced, the accident may have exposed the fact that the two were together while Marshall was still married to and living with his wife. But there was more to the story than met the eye.
Even though Marshall claimed he was leaving his family home in Alloa, Scotland to become Busby’s full-time carer, after just three weeks he left her, claiming he wasn’t cut out to be a caregiver at all. A friend said, according to Mail Online: “It wasn’t only Claire Busby’s life that was ruined that day, the fall-out from that incident devastated a family.” So was Marshall telling lies?
The friend, who refused to be named, added that “When Claire fell off the bed and broke her back John said he was moving down to Surrey to look after her, which left Sue very upset.” And when Susan was asked whether she was still married to her husband at the time of the affair, she claimed that she was. But that would mean that Marshall was lying in court under oath, and that complicated this difficult case even further.
According to Susan Marshall, she was very much still married to her husband at the time when he had the affair with Busby. When asked if she was still married to her husband at that time Susan replied, “Yes, but it has nothing to do with me now. It did then, but it’s in the past. The case has dragged up a lot of things that we were trying to forget, and it’s been very hard and very stressful.”
Sequence of Events
In a statement to the High Court, Marshall, who is now married to a different woman who is his third wife, explained that he watched Busby roll back off the bed in slow motion. “I didn’t see how she landed and at first I laughed, not realizing that she had hurt herself,” he explained. “I was expecting her to get up and when she didn’t I laughed and said ‘get up’, but she said that she had hurt herself.”
Marshall explained that when he got up to look over the end of the bed, he saw Busby laying there on her side with her arm underneath her. He said he assumed she had just banged her arm or something. However, “She said she could not feel her arms and legs, I thought she was joking, and I laughed. She told me again that she had hurt herself and to call an ambulance.” It was at that point that Marshall called the emergency services.
Despite the more controversial issues of the circumstances surrounding this terrible freak accident, as a result of being catapulted from the bed, Ms. Busby suffered a serious spinal injury which has left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair for life. The fact she has had to relive her personal sex life before the High Court simply makes matters even worse for her.
This bizarre case is disturbing on many levels although people feel that a bed company cannot be blamed and then prosecuted for a freak accident that occurred during a sexual encounter. Although the tragic reality is that Ms. Busby may never walk again, many feel the specifics of the assembly of her bed cannot be accountable for the accident that took place on that fateful night. Ultimately, it will be for the High Court in London to decide whether or not the company will need to pay compensation in the amount of just over $1 million.