Massachusetts Pool Slide Death Appealed To SJC By Toys R Us

Here’s a real interesting story about defective products, and the legal liability that can attach to them. (This type of liability is known as Product Liability.) The story is also timely, since it’s summer now. Read on, and you’ll find out why.

Ever visit a friend who has a pool in their back yard, on a hot summer day? Fun comes to most people’s minds with such a scene. As a Massachusetts swimming pool injury lawyer, caution comes to mine. Swimming pools, especially the backyard/privately-owned ones, are especially dangerous places. They often have a “do-whatever-you-want, it’s our house” type of atmosphere to them, and this can invariably invite serious injuries. And worse, those injuries tend to be of the catastrophic variety, often involving either broken necks, broken backs, brain injuries and death. I’ve blogged previously about Massachusetts swimming pool injuries, and of what measure pool owners need to take to minimize the risk of a swimming pool injury on their property.

This case is more about unsafe and dangerous products. Exhibit “A” on this point: One hot summer day back in July 2006, a young woman by the name of Robin Aleo, from Colorado, was, along with her husband Michael, visiting her husband’s aunt and uncle in Andover, Massachusetts. Mr. Aleo’s aunt and uncle had a backyard in-ground swimming pool. She thought she was looking at the perfect day of fun at the family pool. She slid head-first down a 6-foot inflatable pool slide that had been purchase by her husband’s aunt and uncle through Toys R Us. The slide’s instruction manual and a small warning label near the ladder footholds stated that the slide’s weight limit was 200 pounds. Aleo, reportedly weighing 148 pounds, figured that was no problem. Down she went, head first. As she did so, the slide partially collapsed near the bottom, and Aleo slammed her head onto the concrete pool deck. She suffered massive injuries to her neck and head, causing her death the next day. She was 29 years old. Her husband and 15-month-old daughter witnessed the entire shocking event.

Mrs. Aleo’s husband, through his late wife’s estate, sued Toys R Us, alleging that the slide they sold failed to comply with federal safety standards governing swimming pool slides. In 2011, an Essex Superior Court jury in Salem, Massachusetts awarded Aleo’s family more than $20 million, agreeing that the slide did not comply with required federal safety requirements for swimming pool slides. But, unlike in movies such as The Verdict, that’s frequently not the end of the matter. Very rarely does a defendant’s insurance company just turn around, issue a check for the verdict award, call it a day and walk away. They have the right to appeal, and they have done just that.

I’ll have more on that in a couple of days, in Part Two of this post.

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