Lack of Space in Restaurant’s Playground Leads to Injury

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Thomas W. Bowler, CPSI ::::

Case Synopsis: Plaintiff, age 4, was playing indoors within a chain restaurant’s playground facility. The girl tripped and crashed into a park bench located within the “use zone” of the play area. In doing so, she sustained a laceration and a broken nose. The “use zone” is an area surrounding pieces of playground equipment, in which no other obstructions may be positioned. Generally speaking, playground equipment that is stationary, the use zone distance should be six [6] feet from obstructions. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing & Materials International would concur on this standard of care within the playground industry.

Expert Analysis: Expert analysis of the play area included taking several photographs along with several measurements. The plaintiff’s mother was interviewed at the site. In formulating an opinion in this matter, the expert took into account the following: testimony from depositions, an employee’s statement, the incident report, the medical records, and previous photographs. The photographs taken beforehand were invaluable in determining the location of the bench, since it was portable and was not bolted to the floor. It was determined that the legs of the park bench were within the “use zone” of the play area, when the incident occurred. One leg was 4 feet 6 ½ inches off the play equipment and the other leg was 5 feet. Additionally, signage that was present did not indicate the age-appropriateness of the equipment. Expert analysis further determined this composite structure was more suited for ages 5-12 years of age.

Result: Case settled.

 

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