Seventeen-year-old boy suffers spinal cord injuries due to alleged unsafe conditions at a Bellevue trampoline park

A seventeen-year-old boy and his mother recently filed suit against Sky High Sports’ Bellevue location arising out of injuries the boy received in the trampoline park at his sister’s 16th birthday party. The boy’s mother describes a “free for all” of children and adults bouncing all over when she and her children visited Sky High on April 28. Less than 15 minutes into the visit, her son hit his head and neck on the frame of the trampoline as he was attempting a flip into a foam pit.

He suffered spinal cord injuries that have left him spending his days relearning to walk, shower and eat without his mother’s help. He hopes to regain his fine motor skills so he can hold a pen and write in time for school in September when he will begin his senior year of high school. He missed the last two months of school while spending almost three weeks in the hospital, followed by doctor’s appointments and rounds of occupational and physical therapy for damage to his central nervous system resulting from spinal cord injuries. His mother says she’s just happy he’s alive, but “[i]t’s devastating to see your child go from being a vibrant athlete — laughing, playing, running and jumping — to sitting on a sofa feeling down and gloomy because he can’t do the things he should be doing”.

The lawsuit filed alleges that the “trampoline fun center” is inherently dangerous in the way it was designed and the facility was negligent in its failure to maintain and supervise. Specifically, the suit alleges the facility failed to properly cover and pad the metal bars and pipes near the foam pit where her son was jumping. It also alleges that Sky High failed to provide adequate supervision and safeguards. When it comes to equipment design and maintenance, Sky High advertises the padding on the trampolines as “cushier than a corner office in a marshmallow factory,” but this boy and at least two others claim they suffered injuries from colliding with the frame. There are at least 18 families with negligence claims against Sky High Sports’ Bellevue location arising since the facility opened in 2009.

Indoor trampoline parks are a growing craze across the country, and with the parks come injuries to their patrons, many of them children. A trampoline center in a Chicago suburb was sued earlier this month along with Sky High Sports Niles, a subsidiary of Sky High Sports, by two different families. Both families accuse the centers of improper supervision and failing to enforce rules prohibiting more than one jumper on a trampoline at a time. “Double-jumping” can cause injuries as one person lands while the other attempts to jump. Both lawsuits allege that double-jumping contributed to leg fractures in a 5-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy in 2011.

Injuries sustained in trampoline parks and other recreational facilities often give rise to claims against the facility and/or the manufacturers of equipment used by the facility. As you probably know from experience, these types of facilities usually require you to sign a waiver before you are permitted to participate in their activities, but often times such waivers do not bar you from bringing a claim to recover from injuries. For more information on the effectiveness of waivers please see our recent blog post from June 28, 2012.