A recent win by child injury attorney Sam K. Mukerji, who second-chaired the trial with his former law partner, is drawing attention from state and local news outlets in Houston. The trial covered an injury that happened in 2010, when a 9-year-old boy and his brother were playing on The Chaos, an inflatable bounce house at Pump It Up of The Woodlands. When the boy’s brother climbed off the equipment, the change in air pressure caused an imbalance and the boy fell 7 feet to the floor.
Results of the Fall
The fall caused him to hit his head on the concrete, resulting in a skull fracture and bleeding on the brain. He now stutters, suffers memory problems and other emotional challenges as a result of damage from the impact. His mother believed Pump It Up of The Woodlands should be held accountable for the lack of adequate security and monitoring in the area.
Negligence, No Supervision
Mukerji’s team successfully represented the family in the trial against PIU Holdings, LLC, parent company of Pump It Up of The Woodlands. They presented a premises liability case based on evidence that the area was an existing hazard that was not addressed by the corporation. The team argued that while the boys were in an area where they should not have been, the play center was negligent because no supervisor was present, and the barriers were inadequate. Following effective witness testimony, photos and video recordings, the court agreed that Pump It Up of The Woodlands was negligent and awarded $1,312,000 to the family.
A Long Road Ahead
The verdict doesn’t change the suffering experienced by the family, but it will help the family to provide their son with adequate care. Equally importantly, the verdict will send a message to other play centers to ensure the safety of their equipment and patrons.
Melinda: A jury has ordered Pump It Up of the Woodlands to pay a local family more than $1.3 million for an accident involving an inflatable structure.
Don: The Jury found the facility negligent in the injury a child sustained there three years ago. Fox 26’s Katie McCall is live in the newsroom with the mother’s reaction. Katie?
Katie: Don and Melinda, Pump It Up of the Woodlands is a popular destination for children’s birthday parties and other outings, but almost everyone has heard of these bouncy house facilities. Well, one Mother says her two children will never go to any place like that because of what happened to her son.
Kimberly: I don’t want to be an angry person but it is very, very difficult to see this every day.
Katie: Kimberly is angry at Pump It Up of the Woodlands because of an accident that happened three years ago, one that changed her then nine-year-old son’s life forever.
Kimberly: There’s no surgery, there is nothing that can go in and repair his brain.
Katie: The boy and his brother were on this object called the Chaos. This animated simulation used in court, shows what happened next. The boys were on a part of it that is not intended for climbing, when the boy’s younger brother jumped down, the older boy was thrown up and fell seven feet onto a concrete floor, cracking his skull.
Plaintiff’s Attorney: That pushed the air up in that single chamber and basically, propelled the older brother off onto his head, he received a skull fracture, and three brain bleeds.
Katie: A jury found Pump It Up of the Woodlands negligent.
Plaintiff’s Attorney: They should never have been allowed to climb up there, and if they were supervising properly, it never would have happened.
Katie: Texas law says there should be one employee monitoring children for each inflatable object, but when the fall occurred not a single monitor was in the room.
Plaintiff’s Attorney: The reason why they had zero monitors is there was a conscious choice on the part of one of the managers of Pump It Up of the Woodlands to have their one attendant go between two different rooms, and there were four inflatables in each room.
Katie: Kimberly’s son is now 13, and she says the former A and B student suffers from significant developmental delays.
Kimberley: He struggles, academically.
Katie: Doctors testified that he has lesions on three areas of the brain that control things like memory, language, and impulse, causing emotional and cognitive problems for which there are no simple solutions.
Kimberley: Emotionally he will have anger outbursts as well as just crying at school, at home. He went from having friends to not really having friends. His ability to make decisions has changed. He can’t really make good decisions on his own. He is very impulsive. We have sleep issues.
Katie: The family was awarded $1,312,000, money that will help with the boy’s needs, but Kimberly hopes it will also prevents this from ever happening to someone else’s child.
Kimberley: This is not acceptable. You shouldn’t go to an amusement inflatable place and have your life changed forever.
Katie: We contacted Pump It Up of the Woodlands for comment but we have not received a response from them yet. One important thing for parents to know that even if you sign a waiver for your child to enter a facility like Pump It Up, that waiver is not legally enforceable. That’s because in Texas you cannot legally waive any child’s right against injury, so in spite of that signature, you can still sue these facilities if they break the law and your child is hurt. Live in the newsroom Katie McCall, Fox 26 news.
Narrator: At six now, a Houston family has been awarded more than a million dollars after their son was seriously injured at a popular indoor park. Our Lauren Tallerico talks with the mother and joins us now live from the newsroom with more on that story. Lauren?
Lauren: Well, Kimberly said that she thought her child would be safe playing at the Pump It Up on Sawdust Road, that’s just South of the Woodlands. It’s full of inflatables and other attractions that kids would love, but that wasn’t the case. Back in 2010, Kimberly’s then 9-year-old son was sitting on an inflatable that was seven feet up. That’s when he fell off and hit his head on the concrete floor below, only covered by a thin carpet. Now he fractured his skull, and had bleeding on the brain in three places.
According to the lawsuit, he was playing on a part he wasn’t supposed to be on, but no one told them that. And there was no safety monitor in the room with him at the time. Now Kimberly is speaking out because she has a message for other parents.
Kimberly: So we want the public to know so that businesses like this can be held accountable to the standards that Texas has put in place for them. There shouldn’t be any expectation of going to a place like this and having your life forever changed.
Lauren: This past Friday a jury found that Pump It Up was negligent. Kimberly was awarded $1.3 million in damages. In the newsroom Lauren Talerico, KHOU 11 News.
Image courtesy of: khou.com