PwC is being sued by an auditor who said he suffered a serious head injury and lost half of his skull after taking part in a “pub golf” work event that involved excessive drinking.
After suffering a brain injury and being placed in an induced coma in early 2019, the employee, 28-year-old Michael Brockie, filed a personal injury lawsuit against PwC for alleged negligence.
According to the lawsuit seen by the Financial Times, employees at PwC’s Reading office were encouraged to participate in an after-hours “pub golf” event that involved visiting nine bars, or “holes,” where they were reportedly pressed to consume a certain alcoholic drink.
“Doctors and the police concluded that I fell over and didn’t use my hands to break the fall so I ended up hitting my head on the floor,” Brockie told ITV last year. “The next thing I remember was four weeks later.”
Doctors described Brockie as a walking miracle when he recovered from the head injury that required him to have half of his skull removed and return to work six months later.
According to the court filing against PwC, there was “strong pressure” to attend the event, and the event regulations “not only encourage but create a competitive virtue of excessive, quick, and extended intake of alcohol over many hours beginning around 6 p.m.”
The document stated that the original invite from one of PwC’s managers stated: “I expect absolute attendance from all of those who attended last year’s invitational. Nothing short of a certified and countersigned letter by an accredited medical practitioner will suffice as an excuse.”
Workers were encouraged to down each drink in as few mouthfuls as possible to get the lowest “score” — with scorecards printed and distributed in the office — and the event “encouraged excessive consumption of alcohol”, according to court papers.
Brockie, who was at the time a senior associate in PwC’s audit department, claims he became “so intoxicated” that after 10 pm he has no recollection of events and was later found lying in the street after falling.
According to the claim, he had severe brain damage and returned to work about six months later, first working part-time, and still has “persistent cognitive symptoms”.
He is suing PwC for alleged negligence, seeking more than £200,000 in provisional damages and an order that he be entitled to additional compensation in the future.
He claimed that the company was indirectly culpable for the negligence of Simon Fradgley, an audit department manager who organized the beverages and “failed to take appropriate care for the safety of coworkers.”
What is PWC saying
PwC has canceled the annual event, which had been going on for about seven years, after Brockie’s 2019 accident.
The firm said: “We are unable to comment on the specifics of a matter that is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
PWC added, “As a responsible employer we are committed to providing a safe, healthy, and inclusive culture for all of our people. We also expect anyone attending social events to be responsible and to ensure their safety and that of others.”
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