On October 13, 2011, a Massachusetts jury hit Toys ‘R’ Us with a $20.6 million verdict in a wrongful death case involving a swimming pool slide. According to the AP, the Salem Superior Court verdict was awarded to the family of Robin Aleo, who was fatally injured when an inflatable pool slide partially collapsed at a 2006 party. Anyone that has followed my blogs has seen my warnings regarding inflatables (slides, rides, moonwalks, etc.). It appears that yet another injury and fatality is linked to the use of inflatable slides.
Attorneys for Aleo’s family argued and proved that the slide purchased from Toys ‘R’ Us was not tested to determine if it met safety standards. The suit and verdict stem from a pool party in 2006 where the inflatable was set up and used for sliding into the pool. The AP reports that Aleo slid head-first down the slide when the “Toyquest Banzai” slide partially collapsed, causing Aleo to strike her head on the pool’s edge and fracture her spine. Aleo was rendered quadriplegic as a result of the incident and passed shortly thereafter.
While the attorneys for Toys ‘R’ Us have not yet responded to the verdict or regarding the retailer’s intentions regarding an appeal, but they did argue at trial that the safety regulations did not apply to this particular inflatable slide. Apparently, the jury disagreed strongly with that argument. The Boston Globe reported that the jury award included both compensatory and punitive damages. Verdicts like these are needed to remind corporate interests that they still have to answer to the people when they break the law.