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Recent Decisions From The New York Courts Concerning Dangerous Playground Equipment

December 7, 2013

Playgrounds are a great benefit, but if they have equipment that was improperly designed and/or maintained they become attractive nuisances where children can be seriously injured. All municipalities in the State of New York have a duty to properly maintain playground equipment once installed. In addition, the playground equipment, as manufactured, must be reasonably safe for its intended use. Our Westchester personal injury attorneys have represented many children, and their parents, related to injuries caused by unsafe, improperly maintained and dangerous playground equipment in the Courts of the Westchester, Bronx, New York, Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau Counties.

A recent case in Nassau County, Sivec v. The City of Long Beach, highlighted that playground equipment manufactures are held to the same duty as manufacturers of other consumer goods and that the owner of the equipment has a duty to properly maintain the equipment once installed. In this case an eight-year-old girl fractured her left arm when she fell from a Worldtrail Beam Jump (Beam Jump) manufactured by Playworld. This equipment was installed by the City of Long Beach in one of their city parks. The Beam Jump was made of rounded top beams attached together in a Z shape and elevated about 9 inches above the ground. The idea was that children would play on the equipment by jumping side to side down the length of the beams. Unfortunately, a young girl was injured when she attempted to use one beam as a balance beam. As she attempted to walk down the length of the rounded top beam she fell at a spot where the paint had worn away. Her parents brought suit on her behalf against both Playworld and the City of Long Beach. Defendants attempted to have the case dismissed before trial by moving for summary judgment. The Court denied defendants’ motions holding that Playworld failed to demonstrate that the “utility of the product outweighs its inherent danger.” With regard to the City of Long Beach, the Court held that the City had a duty to tend to and maintain the painted surfaces of the equipment since they were advised by Playworld that the failure to repainted any surface which has become “rusted or worn” could pose a hazzard.

Children are regularly injured on playground equipment found in the parks and schools located in White Plains, Eastchester, Greenburg, Mamaroneck, Mt. Vernon, Yonkers, Rye, Tarrytown, Harrison, Bedford, Long Beach, Elmhurst, Flushing, Morningside Heights, Lower Manhattan, Central Park, Prospect Park, Henry Hudson Park, Pelham Bay Park and in all of the other parks located in the region. The Court in Sivec made clear that playgrounds, even with their inherent risks, must be safe. It is important for parents to be aware of the cause of the injury, the obligations of the municipalities and schools, and of the right of a potential recovery. Consultations are always free.

Parents should remember that if an accident occurs on a public playground, which is one owned by a City, town or Village or even a School district, a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident. If the notice of claim is not timely filed, permission to file a late notice of claim must be sought from the New York Supreme Court

The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph