Skip to main content

Six-Year-Old Boy Nearly Smothers in Inflatable Play Area at School Carnival

By May 18, 2010July 16th, 2019Premises Liability, Product Liability

A recent news story from Kansas City about a frightening accident at an elementary school caught my attention s a Missouri personal injury lawyer. A six-year-old boy was nearly smothered in an inflatable obstacle course at a school carnival. The Kansas City Star reports that he remained hospitalized the day after the incident occurred. This story is important because it incident reminds us that young children need careful supervision at all times: unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among all children over age one in the United States. I hope that this child will recover quickly and fully, and that the school and the company that provided the inflatable play area think carefully about making sure children stay safe while they’re at a school event.
Fun Services of Kansas City provided an inflatable obstacle course and other play equipment for the school carnival at Lakewood Elementary School on May 13. Police learned that two children approached a Fun Services employee around 8:30 p.m. to inform him that the boy was stuck between two parts of the obstacle course. Meanwhile, the mother of the boy had approached a Fun Services employee to say that two older children were playing inappropriately on the obstacle course, and that she had disciplined them herself. It was then that the employee told her that a child was not breathing, and she found out that it was her own son. A Fun Services employee pulled the boy out and Clay County sheriff’s officials who were at the carnival performed CPR. The boy did begin to breathe on his own, but on the ambulance ride to Children’s Mercy Hospital, his condition grew worse and he had to be ventilated when he arrived at the hospital. A letter sent to parents the next day from school principal Suzanne Baker said that his condition had improved, but he remained hospitalized.
This situation would be frightening for any parent, but other details described in the news report give me pause too, as a St. Louis personal injury attorney. I’m wondering whether anyone was specifically asked to supervise the children in the inflatable play areas. School carnivals can be very chaotic and noisy, making it all the more important that responsible adults plan out in advance who will make certain that the children stay safe. The district undoubtedly had its own safety policies before this incident, and now, it has instituted a new policy requiring that this type of play equipment be inspected and pre-approved by the central office. Fun Services said that their employees always followed safety regulations and maintained their equipment so that it was in safe condition. But the fact that it was up to the two children to report that the boy was stuck in the inflatable obstacle course raises questions about whether the employees and the school district really did follow all safety procedures that they reasonably should have.

Injuries requiring CPR, ventilation, and overnight or longer hospitalization are very expensive and can cause serious damage. Victims like this boy may need special tutoring to help them keep up with schoolwork during recovery, and parents may lose income while making sure they get the medical treatment they need. The law recognizes that victims should not have to pay for all these costs themselves if they were not at fault for their injuries. But in cases where government entities like school districts may be at fault, a lawsuit to recover compensation is more complicated than it would be otherwise. Government entities have sovereign immunity, which means that they are generally exempt from liability just because they are part of the government. In order to succeed in a lawsuit against a government entity, a victim needs an experienced southern Illinois personal injury lawyer who knows how to carefully follow procedures and construct arguments to overcome the obstacles sovereign immunity sets up.
Carey, Danis & Lowe focuses on helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own recover compensation for their costs, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life. For a free consultation in which you can learn about your rights and your options, please call us at 1-877-678-3400 or send us an email through our website.