A jury in Massachusetts has awarded the family of a 29-year-old woman nearly $21 million after she died from an injury sustained while using an inflatable pool slide about five years ago.
The panel found that Toys 'R' Us never tested the Banzai Falls in-ground pool slide to determine whether I met federal safety standards before or after it was imported from China as required by law.
It was one of the largest product liability verdicts in Massachusetts this year.
At a pool party at a relative's home in January 2006, Robin Aleo, a mother of an 18-month-old daughter, climbed to the top of the 6-foot-high Banzai Falls slide, then started sliding down head-first. The slide suddenly bottomed out and Aleo struck her head on the edge, according to testimony, The Eagle-Tribune newspaper reported.
Her neck was broken from the pool accident, and she was left paralyzed and unable to breathe. She died the following day at a Boston hospital.
Originally from Long Island, N.Y., the Aleos were living in Colorado at the time and were in Andover, Mass. to visit family. They had purchased the pool slide the prior month from Toys "R" Us via Amazon's website, The Eagle-Tribune reported.
Trial testimony showed that Aleo's daughter was present when she was pulled, unconscious, from the pool. Her husband, Michael Aleo, attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and told jurors that as he looked at his wife, she mouthed the word "more." But the injury left her unable to breathe on her own, and her condition deteriorated.
Robin Aleo was at least the second person allegedly left paralyzed by such an incident on the Banzai Falls slide, of which more than 4,000 were sold nationwide, according to court records.
The slide was tested for other product safety rules — and twice failed, once for containing lead in excess of federal limits — but not for compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission pool slide regulation, testimony showed.
Lawyers for Toys "R" Us contended that federal safety rules did not apply to the Banzai slide because it was inflatable, and that they were not responsible for safety testing for compliance with regulations.
After the trial got under way, two other defendants named in the suit, Amazon.com, which was in a partnership with Toys "R" Us to sell items online, and the manufacturer SLB Toys USA both settled for undisclosed sums, the newspaper reported.
Attorneys of Ross Feller Casey, LLP have built a remarkable record of victories in Premises Liability cases, amassing a long list of seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements. They include:
• A $10 million recovery for a child who drowned in a swimming pool.
• A $6.6 million verdict for the family of a 8-year-old boy who drowned after the lifeguards at his summer camp abandoned their post.
• A $5.5 million recovery for the family of a 15-year-old boy who drowned in a hotel swimming pool (read about the case).
• A $4.5 million recovery for a man who suffered injuries after he fell into an above-ground pool because of a ladder defect.
• A multi-million recovery the family of a 10-year-old girl who drowned in a New Jersey apartment complex pool "guarded" by two-lifeguards.