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HOUSTON, TX --(Marketwired - March 01, 2016) - On Friday afternoon, a Harris County jury returned a verdict of $11.485 million for a teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury at Houston's Cosmic Jump indoor trampoline park. Following a two-week trial in the 334th Judicial District Court of Harris County, jurors found Cosmic Jump grossly negligent and rendered the largest jury verdict ever against a commercial trampoline park in the United States.
The teen was injured in 2013 after he fell through a torn trampoline, striking his head on the concrete floor below. The fall resulted in a fractured skull, seizures, and a traumatic brain injury. Evidence presented at trial proved that Cosmic Jump knew about the torn trampoline but failed to make it safe or even warn customers of the danger.
"This verdict will be a wake-up call to the trampoline park industry," predicted Charlie Gustin, one of the attorneys for the injured teen. "If your business is based on giving children a place to play, you are responsible for making sure that place is safe."
The jury's decision included $5.485 million in compensatory damages, with over half of it awarded for the teen's future medical needs and his loss of earning capacity. The jury awarded an additional $6 million in punitive damages against Cosmic Jump to deter similar conduct in the future.
Tom Crosley, the teen's lead attorney, said the punitive damage award was intended to send a message.
"This jury clearly wanted their voices to carry far beyond the courthouse," Crosley said. "They wanted to put these trampoline parks on notice that safety must be their number one priority. While we recognize that trampolines have certain inherent dangers, falling through a hole in one of the trampoline beds should not be one of them."
Indoor trampoline parks are a fairly new business model -- the first one opened in Las Vegas in 2004. But the number of these parks has skyrocketed in recent years, with over 450 trampoline parks operating in the United States today according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks. At least six different trampoline parks are now open in the Houston area.
Nearly 100,000 trampoline-related injuries occur each year in the United States according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, 22 trampoline-related deaths occurred between 2000 and 2009, according to the CPSC. A number of notable injuries at trampoline parks have raised concern about these venues in recent years, including the 2012 death of a man at a park in Phoenix.
Several states, including Arizona, Michigan, Utah, and California have proposed regulations to promote greater safety and accountability by trampoline parks. Similar measures have not yet been proposed in Texas, however, and there are no current federal standards for trampoline parks.
Crosley Law Firm, P.C., is a personal injury law firm with offices in San Antonio and Houston. Learn more about the firm at www.crosleylaw.com.
Case number for reference:
Case No. 2014-07366, Menchaca v. NTE Houston I, LLC d/b/a Cosmic Jump; in the 334th District Court, Harris County, Texas.
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