A young man who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while sitting on a swing set has been awarded $20 million by a Las Vegas jury, which found that the Homeowner’s Association that owned and maintained the playground was negligent. The victim, who was 15 at the time of the injury, has suffered permanent damage including headaches, movement problems, migraines, and anxiety. He also has not graduated from high school. Traumatic brain injuries can have devastating consequences for their victims, and the harm can last a lifetime.
TBI Lawsuit States Dangerous Swing Set Was a Known Problem
According to reports, Carl Thompson was 15 when, in 2013, he sat down on a swing set to send a text message during a basketball game. As he sat on the swing set, the 42-pound steel crossbar fell from eight feet and crushed Thompson’s skull.
The swing set he sat on was at Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs, which is owned and maintained by Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs Homeowners Association. According to Thompson’s lawyers, the homeowners’ association knew about problems with the swing set but failed to properly fix it.
Lamplight Village Swing Set Was Involved in Previous Incidents
In fact, Thompson’s attorneys alleged the swing set was involved in four previous incidents in which the crossbar fell. One of those incidents happened after the crossbar was welded. The attorneys argued that the homeowners’ association was told by the swing set manufacturer to regularly have the set inspected and maintained. Despite that, the association declined an offer for a $150 per month inspection plan.
The association allegedly did manage to spend more than $50,000 on landscaping and $78,000 on other repairs and maintenance in the community, but not the playground the same year Thompson’s accident happened.
“They had warning sign after warning sign that this would have hurt or killed someone,” said Sean Claggett, one of Thompson’s attorneys. “We’re devastated by that. If it would have been a smaller child, this kid would have died.”
15-Year Old Suffered Permanent Damage Due to Playground Brain Injury
The traumatic brain injury left Thompson with permanent injuries, including migraines, memory loss, difficulty sleeping, muscle spasms, and anxiety. He is also at an increased risk of developing dementia as he ages. As a result of the accident, Thompson has not yet been able to finish high school.
Unfortunately for Thompson, multiple studies have shown that brain injuries, especially those sustained when the victim is young, are linked to an increased risk of serious, permanent damage.
Jury Awards $20 Million to TBI Victim
Despite Thompson’s attorneys offering to settle the playground brain injury lawsuit before it went to trial, the homeowners’ association chose to go to court. There, a jury found the association negligent in its maintenance of the swing set and ordered it to pay Thompson $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The HOA has said it will appeal the jury’s decision.
The association itself reportedly faces pushback from residents, some of whom claim they were lied to about the litigation. Many are concerned about the possibility of losing their homes because the $20 million award is much higher than the association’s insurance policy.
“Why are we hiding something that affects every homeowner in this community?” asked a participant at a homeowner meeting. “That’s what our problem is. We’ve been hiding. We’ve been doing things illegal for a long time, and that has caught up with us.”
As a result, the association could now face lawsuits from residents who allege the association did not alert them about the litigation or settlement offers.
“I think the way [the association] handled it from beginning to end has been bush league,” said Jeremy Long, who said he just moved into the neighborhood. “I don’t believe that they outright lied to homeowners, but I’m 100 percent certain that they withheld information.”
Brain Injury Lawsuits Filed Against Sports Associations
It is not just on playgrounds that children and youths could be at risk of a concussion or brain injury. Lawsuits have been filed against sports associations, schools, and coaches alleging children were unnecessarily put at risk of severe brain trauma. One such lawsuit was filed against Pop Warner, a youth football league after two young men died following years of playing Pop Warner football. Both young men were diagnosed with CTE following their death.
Children and youth should be kept as safe as possible from brain injuries, which can have a disastrous impact on a developing brain. This means ensuring that all equipment they play on is safe and properly maintained, and they have the necessary precautions in place to protect them during sports.