A May 2019 CBS special report on the dangers of Trampoline Parks illuminates trampoline safety issues central to a 2015 lawsuit for which Hayes+Associates, Inc, was retained to provide biomechanical analysis.
The CBS report covers the rapid increase in US Trampoline Parks (from 40 in 2011 to over 800 in 2019) and the precipitous rise in injuries associated with the venues (2,500 reported in 2013 and 17,800 in 2017, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission). CBS further reports at least six Trampoline Park deaths in seven years.
CBS interviewed Don McPherson, a nationally recognized gymnastics coach who has provided expert testimony in over 200 Trampoline injury lawsuits since 2011: "The cardinal rule of trampolining is that there should only be one person on a trampoline at a time,” McPherson asserts. He lists some of the injuries he has encountered in his role as expert witness: “..broken necks, broken backs, dislocated and open fracture elbows and shoulders…all catastrophic injuries.”
The 2015 lawsuit for which Hayes+Associates, Inc, was retained as expert witness involved the hazards of multiple jumpers at a local facility of Sky High Sports in Bellevue, WA. In 2009, Tyler Duringer, age 17, was descending after bouncing off an angled wall at Sky High Sports when a little girl came into his path of travel. As he was trying to avoid the girl, he hit the trampoline wrong and heard his left leg snap. He testified later that he experienced the feeling of being doubled-jumped or double-bounced, as if the trampoline mat was coming up as he was going down. Tyler suffered an open fracture to both bones above his left ankle.
Tyler was represented by Simeon Osborn of Osborn Machler, PLLC, Seattle, WA (osbornmachler.com), a firm that has been involved in several Bellevue Sky High Sports cases. The firm retained H+A to reconstruct the biomechanics of the incident.
Working backward from Tyler’s injury, considering testimony, medical records, and recent scientific studies, and using the fundamental laws of physics, H+A Associate, Erik D. Power, PE, reconstructed the injurious event, concluding: “Tyler’s injuries are a direct consequence of the Defendants allowing multiple individuals to use a trampoline mat simultaneously, despite their apparent knowledge of the associated dangers and potential for serious injuries.”
But this story is not over. According to the Osborn Machler website, subsequent to being sued by several participants, Sky High Sports, Bellevue, “has responded by defending its position to be able to sue parents of injured children for indemnification, asking the court to force the families to repay the company the amount of the settlement or verdict it paid to the minor, and its legal fees, after the case for the minor is complete.”
Asked if he thinks participants at Trampoline Parks are risking their lives there, gymnastics coach McPherson doesn’t hesitate. “Yes!—unknowingly!” “Everyone in the gymnastics industry,” he says, “calls them Death Parks.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, weighing in on Trampoline use, states that, "It is not advised that children play on trampolines. The only time trampolines should be used is for training programs or certain sports, and then only under supervision of a trained adult."
Hayes+Associates, Inc. (http://www.hayesassoc.com) is an expert witness and consulting firm, based in Corvallis, OR. The company brings more than 75 years of collective experience in academic research, university teaching and forensic testimony to practice areas that include vehicle collisions, premises safety, slips and falls, products liability, worker safety, sports and recreation, patent litigation and criminal matters.