Varsity football kicker's knee severely injured in trampoline park. $905K. Orange County.

Summary

Teenager falls on trampoline and his knee lands on a bolt. Negligence, products liability, premises liability.

The Case

  • Case Name: Justin Matlin v. Big Air Trampoline Park; Fun Spot Manufacturing, LLC
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2017-00905551-CU-PO-CJC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, March 01, 2017
  • Type of Action: Emotional Distress, Negligence, Premises Liability, Products Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Thomas A. Delaney
  • Plaintiffs:
    Justin Matlin
  • Defendants:
    H20 Partners, LLC dba Big Air Trampoline Park
    Fun Spot Manufacturing, LLC
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $905,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    15% liability as to H20 Partners, LLC dba Big Air Trampoline Park amounting to $135,750; 85% liability as to Fun Spot Manufaturing, LLC amounting to $769,250.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Future: $220,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $105,000

    Future: $580,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2.5 days.
  • Jury Polls: 10 total questions;varied between 11-1; 10-2; 9-3

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Dordulian Law Group by Samuel Dordulian and Arpineh Yeremian, Glendale.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Amaro Baldwin LLP by Michael Amaro, Long Beach. (For H2O, LLC dba Big Air Trampoline Park.)

    Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani by Probal Young, Irvine. (For Fun Spot Manufacturing.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Richard P. Emmanuel, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Culver City.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Eric W. Lee, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Orange.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Marc Rabinoff, sport and fitness risk management, Littleton, CO.

    Jenn Craigmyle, life care planning, Mira Loma.

    Timothy Lanning, M.A., economics, Santa Ana.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Robert Ito, risk management.

    Michael Jacki, trampolines, Fishers, IN.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, male, age 17 at the time, was a patron at Big Air Trampoline Park in Laguna Hills when he was injured playing on the trampoline dodgeball court. As he reached for a loose ball, he slipped under loose padding and an exposed bolt impaled his knee, shattering his patella and adjoining tendons.

    Big Air had a liability waiver on file signed by plaintiff’s father (see notes).

    At the time plaintiff was an all-star varsity football kicker slated to begin college ball in the fall. As a result of his injuries and subsequent surgical repair he was forced to red-shirt his first college season. He continued to have residual pain, weakness and a bleak future outcome of not one, but two, knee replacements over his lifetime.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    As to defendant trampoline park: negligent and improper installation, negligent maintenance and inspection of the premises and negligent operation of the facility.

    As to defendant manufacturer of the the trampoline system, Fun Spot Manufacturing: defective  product design. 

    Plaintiff sought damages for past pain and suffering along with future medical care and future pain and suffering.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Big Air Trampoline park maintained that they were not liable for the installation of the exposed bolt as Fun Spot Manufacturing oversaw the installation, and further, that their operations were sufficient for industry standards.  

    Fun Spot Manufacturing, LLC maintained that their installation was not only proper, but that their manufacturing of this trampoline "system" was not defective, in that, as a whole, it worked (i.e., trampoline pads, safety skirt covers and hardware).

     

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff sustained a shattering of his patella and adjoining tendons in his knee. He required surgical repair and months of physical therapy along with conservative therapy consisting of plasma replacement therapy and stem cell replacement therapy. Ultimately, it was opined that his condition would deteriorate with wear and tear as cartilage damage does not repair itself, leading to one partial knee replacement in about 20 years followed by a total knee replacement in another 20 years from that due to his young age.

  • Other damages presented included lifetime of care and economic damages regarding the same. Past and future pain and suffering was also sought.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Waived.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $287,723
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: To Fun Spot For $405,000. To Big Air for $500,000.
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $50,000 from each defendant.

Additional Notes

Big Air had a waiver of liability on file signed by plaintiff’s father. As such, they had cross-complained against the father for indemnity. In pre-trial motions, the waiver was thrown out because of arguments that the type of accident/injury was not what the waiver had foreseen. 

This was important because in negotiations Big Air had ONLY offered a dismissal of the cross complaint.

 

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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