Trampolines! Kids, don’t try this at home - or in public, either!
Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Aug 08, 2012 in Personal Injury
The mother of a 17-year-old boy remembers fondly the plans she had made for her daughter's birthday party. A group of the girl's friends, including her brother, were going to a trampoline facility, part of a nationwide chain of indoor trampoline parks. The afternoon did not go as planned.
Trampoline parks have gained in popularity over the past couple of years. They are definitely the "new thing," billed as year-round locations for kids and adults to get some aerobic exercise under the watchful eyes of safety-conscious staff. A West Virginia park, in fact, boasts trampolines floating on a lake.
When the birthday party arrived at the facility, the mother was surprised to see a "free for all." Her group had not been there 15 minutes when she watched her son hit his head and neck on the trampoline frame. She remembers the sound of the impact and the sound of her son's neck snapping. He was not dead, but he did suffer life-altering spinal cord injuries. Now, three months later, he is partially paralyzed.
This woman has filed a lawsuit against the center, one of 10 similar suits filed since 2010. As many as eight more suits could be in the offing. The plaintiffs claim that the facilities are inherently dangerous in just about every way: their design, the way the company maintains them and the way the company supervises its employees.
Supervision is a hot button for many of the families as well as many safety advocates. The company claims that employees go through extensive background checks and screening; the successful applicants, the ones that have no problem enforcing rules, then go through rigorous training. But customers report the same kind of "free for all" witnessed at the birthday party. A particularly popular infraction is double-jumping -- two people on a trampoline at once -- that is against the rules but that is also routinely ignored by staff.
Federal regulators haven't quite caught up with trampoline centers yet. We'll get into that more in our next post.
Source: CNN, "Lawsuits ignite debate over trampoline park safety," Emanuella Grinberg, July 27, 2012
Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Charleston, West Virginia, personal injury page.