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ARTICLE ID 9601

$________ Defective children's backyard trapeze/swing set - infant arm is caught in pinch-point where bar seat connects to chain link hook - severe laceration - permanent scarring.

BERGEN County, NEW JERSEY

The plaintiff contended that the trapeze-swing set on which the four-year-old infant plaintiff was sitting at the time of the accident was defective in that the seat contained a sharp edge which, when attached to the unprotected hook connecting the seat/bar, created a dangerous pinch point. The plaintiff contended that as a result, the child’s upper arm became caught on the pinch point as she attempted to jump four to five feet to the ground, causing a 9 cm. long laceration.

The plaintiff’s expert contended that the unprotected pinch point violated ANSI Standards, and further asserted that the pinch point could have been protected with a sheath or other covering device. The plaintiff’s plastic surgeon testified as to photographs taken shortly after the accident depicting the initial laceration. The physician maintained that the plaintiff currently has a 5 cm. long scar which will remain permanently and that she suffers a permanent loss of sensation in the immediate area of the scar due to damage to nerves near the surface. The mother testified that the child has become very skittish and overreacts upon sustaining minor cuts and bruises. The plaintiff produced no psychiatric testimony. The plaintiff presented medical specials of $________. The parents contended that they had witnessed the accident and asserted individual claims for their emotional distress.

The defendant’s in-house expert engineer contended that the device was properly designed and comported with applicable ANSI standards. The defendant’s expert plastic surgeon contended that there was no muscle or deep nerve damage and that the child suffered no impairment of the ability to fully use the arm. The defendant argued that the the injury to the child was not sufficiently severe to warrant the submission of an emotional distress claim by the parents. The plaintiff countered that the child was hanging for several minutes by her arm and that observation by the parents of such was sufficient to submit the issue to the jury. The defendant argued that in view of the absence of any treatment received by the parents and the absence of any evidence other than the testimony of the parents to support the claim, there was insufficient proof of emotional distress to submit the issue to the jury. The Court dismissed this aspect at the close of the plaintiff’s case. The jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $________ for the child’s injuries and $________ to the parents for medical bills.

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