Indiana wrongful death lawyer discusses a recent case in which Toys R Us loses $20 million because of a wrongful death.
Toys ‘R Us recently lost a $20 million dollar verdict in Massachusetts when a 29 year old mother died when an inflatable pool slide collapsed. The facts of the story reported are as follows:
- Toys ‘R Us apparently was in a partnership with a Chinese company to make the slide
- The pool slide was never tested against our Federal Safety Guidelines
- The federal guidelines required the slide to hold 350 pounds of weight
- The woman slid down the slide face first towards the pool and when she reached the bottom of the slide – it bottomed out and she hit her head on the pool's edge
- The woman broke her neck and suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of hitting her head on the pool
- The woman's daughter looked on as her dad attempted to perform mouth to mouth resuscitation
- The woman died the following day
The claim was brought under products liability law alleging that the slide was a defective product that did not meet US Federal Safety Guidelines. In defense of its case, Toys ‘R Us took the position that the regulations didn't apply. In the discovery process Toys ‘R Us admitted that its Chinese partner was not asked to conduct tests to see if the slide met US safety regulations.
The jury awarded $2,000,000 to the family in compensatory damages for the wrongful death of the mother and $18,000,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant because of its conduct.
A verdict like this would never stand in Indiana for a number of reasons. First, the case would have to proceed under the Wrongful Death Act and damages for Wrongful Death in Indiana are capped at $300,000. Second, punitive damages in Indiana are capped at three times compensatory damages with a maximum of $50,000. Also, if punitive damages are awarded 75% of the damage award goes to Indiana and 25% of the damage award goes to the injured person or estate.
When there is a design or manufacturing defect regarding a consumer product whether it be a car, a tire or an inflatable slide as in this case, the cause of action against the manufacturer, distributor or seller of the product is brought under products liability law. Products liability cases are complex because the laws are different, if you have any questions about an Indiana wrongful death claim, you can call our office at (219) 874-4878.