Nevada Jury Awards $20 Million Verdict For Playground Injury Victim
LAS VEGAS, NV – A state court jury recently returned a $20 million verdict in a lawsuit filed by a teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious playground accident that could have easily been prevented.
In 2013, 15-year-old Carl Thompson sat down on a swing set at Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs to send a text message. The 42 lb. metal crossbar broke, landing on his head and crushing the left side of his skull. Thompson lost consciousness due to his injury. When he woke up, he was unable to move his right arm because of the injury to the left side of his brain.
According to one of Thompson’s attorneys – Al Lasso of Lasso Injury Law, LLC – the incident was the result of severe negligence on the part of the Homeowners Association (HOA) at Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs.
“The HOA knew this swing set was dangerous,” Lasso said. “In fact, there had been four previous incidents in which the top bar fell, including one after the HOA welded it together and it still fell. The manufacturer told them they needed to have the swing set professionally inspected and maintained. And on three separate occasions, the HOA was offered an inspection plan for just $150 a month.”
But the HOA declined, citing cost, even though the plan could have been paid for with just a 50-cent increase in dues from each of the approximately 300 homes. Lasso’s investigation found that the HOA had spent over $50,000 on landscaping and $78,000 on other repairs and maintenance in 2013 alone and had over half a million dollars in its bank accounts.
According to Lasso, who represented Thompson along with attorney Sean Claggett of Claggett & Sykes, gross negligence and an utter lack of remorse on the part of the HOA led to the $10 million punitive portion of the verdict.
“The HOA knew about the danger. They knew exactly what they needed to do to fix it,” Lasso said. “They could clearly afford to do it, and they were required by both industry regulations and Nevada state law to maintain the swing sets on their property. They didn’t, and now this young man has to live with severe brain damage for the rest of his life. Yet when we put the HOA president on the stand, he said that they’d done everything they could. We asked him whether he’d consider changing the maintenance of the swing sets in light of the incident, and he said he didn’t see it making a difference.”
Somewhat unusually, the $10 million compensatory portion of the verdict was purely for Carl Thompson’s pain and suffering, which Lasso said was entirely merited based on the facts of the case.
“Here we have a young man, now 20 years old, who is already showing signs of early-onset dementia due to his brain injury. He can’t remember things. He can’t sleep at night. He has overwhelming anxiety. He has severe, at times crippling, migraines and muscle spasms, which he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life. And these sorts of injuries get worse, not better.”
According to Lasso, though, Thompson is working hard to get the best quality of life he can.
“Carl’s passion has always been singing, and before his injury, he was a great performer and always the life of the party,” Lasso said. “Carl’s injury took away his ability to perform, but he still tries to make music. He can walk, he can talk, he can get around. He still has a life, and we were glad to help provide for his lifelong needs.”
Lasso said he hopes the verdict sends a strong message to homeowners’ associations throughout Nevada and nationwide. According to the HOA’s Management Company, this is an epidemic. "This case is not just about Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs. There are hundreds of HOAs in Nevada and nationwide that are failing to maintain their property and putting kids and their caretakers at risk. We hope this verdict sends a strong message that this sort of negligence is absolutely unacceptable.”