The Water Slide of Doom – $2 Million Case (Full Episode) | Injury Court

This is the matter of
Simmons v. Hargrove.
This is the matter of
Simmons v. Hargrove.
Mr. and Mrs. Simmons. I’ve read the materials
that you all have submitted to this court. It appears
that you all are suing Mr. Hargrove for injuries that you sustained
when you went down a water slide at his park. You’re asking this court
to award you $200,000
in past medical expenses and $1.8 million
for pain and suffering for a total of
$2,000,000. Is that correct? [both] Yes, Your Honor. All right, Mr. Hargrove,
your response to this is… he got what he paid for
in terms of going down a water slide and this is not your fault,
he assumed the risk. -Yes, Your Honor.
-[Judge Brogdon] All right. Now let’s get into
the legal sauce. Tell me how we got here,
Mr. Simmons. Well, I’m a family man
as you can see. I went to the water park with my wife and my son and we had planned this
for a while. How old is your son? Ah, he’s four. So you’re a real dad. Oh, yes, sir.
Yes, sir. And I’m a water park
enthusiast. Uh, I’m known around,
they call me “Big Sexy.” [Judge Brogdon chuckles]
Okay. -[audience laughing]
-Why this park this day? Well, the park actually had
a new attraction called the Devil’s Descent. -[Judge Brogdon] Okay.
-Um, it’s one of
the highest slides in the state. And I had to go ahead
and make sure that I get on this, especially with my son
being afraid of heights. Heights make me nervous.
I did this with my own son who’s now 28. Trying to prove to him
that I could do it, but I didn’t end up
the way you did. It was the worst day. Now, is this what
you’ve been prepared on the day of the incident to go down the slide,
is that you? [Simmons] Yes, sir. [Judge Brogdon]
That’s Big Sexy. -[Simmons] Yes, Your Honor.
-[Judge Brogdon] Okay. And you look pretty happy there like you’re excited
and ready to have a good time with your wife and son. -I was.
-Was your little boy excited? Oh, he was excited.
He was running around the park, I was trying to chase him
and everything. Trying to keep up with him. Uh, he’s my everything,
Your Honor. [Judge Brogdon]
Now, Mr. Hargrove, tell me about your park. Um, well, this park
has been in my family for three generations. -[Judge Brogdon] Okay.
-My grandfather started it 32 years ago. Then he passed it down
to my father. I had been running it
for the last three years. We get over seven million visitors
a year. -That’s a lot of folks.
-That’s absolutely
a lot of folks. And with that being said, with those seven million
a year, we have no injuries. Now you’ve got this ride, what’s the slide called? [Hargrove]
It’s the Devil’s Descent. It’s a brand new ride,
it’s the new attraction, it’s why everybody’s coming,
to get a ride on that
Devil’s Descent. Mr. Simmons, today,
you don’t look as excited as you seem to be
in that picture when you were about
to ride the slide. Tell me how
this thing happened? I go to get on the ride. There’s actually about
a 25-minute wait. [Judge Brogdon] Okay. So I have my wife
and my son stay at the bottom. That kind of builds
the excitement though, right? Oh, it does and I know
he’s excited, I see him down there
jumping and waving and I know I’m gonna
make him proud when I go down this slide. Now, Mr. Simmons,
you’ve submitted
a few documents to the court. Uh, one is a picture
of the slide. I want you if you can,
take your time. But I want you,
and Sheriff Matt, if you’ll help him
get over to the, uh, plasma, I want you
to explain exactly how this happened,
’cause I never been
on this slide. And frankly, don’t care
to get on it. -It’s too high for me.
-Yes, Your Honor. Come on across over. [Judge Brogdon] Now,
is this the slide that you, uh, went down? Yes, Your Honor,
it’s about 150 feet up. -[Judge Brogdon chuckles] Whoo.
-[Simmons] So when you get
to the top, you notice that
you’re very high up. -Okay.
-It’s immediate. Up here, everything was fine. Next thing I know,
I get to this second slide right here,
this second bump. And that’s when
I was in the air. [Judge Brogdon]
You went airborne? -[Simmons] Yes, Your Honor.
-Okay. I felt like I didn’t touch
back down till about here. And that was scary, ’cause about here
is where I noticed I had to be going maybe 60, 70 miles an hour. -Okay.
-I’m flying. When I come down here,
I feel it just continue
and I get to the water. Instead of splashing in, I just kind of
skipped across the top here. Like a stone on a pond? -Yes, sir. Yes, sir, exactly.
-Okay. It was the most
traumatic feeling of my life. Then I continued across. I immediately felt pain
as I landed on the concrete. And then I slammed into
the retaining wall. -[audience exclaiming]
-I was thinking, “Oh, God, -I’m gonna die.”
-Yes, sir. It was the most terrifying
experience of my entire life. Yes, sir, you may return
to the podium. Thank you. Now, Mrs. Simmons,
I’ve been talking like you’re not in the room,
but I’m watching your face. What was this like for you?
You’re standing there with your son. To go from that
and seeing him at the top all bubbly to… now wondering if
your husband’s gonna make it. Wondering if your son’s
gonna have a father. That was a drastic change. You know, to see your husband
flying into… [Judge Brogdon] Did he see
his dad hit the wall? -[Marjorie] He did.
-[Judge Brogdon] And… what was his reaction? He’s traumatized,
crying… crying, in tears… [Judge Brogdon] So
you’re trying to comfort him… -Exactly.
-…you’re frightened
about your husband. -You’re scared.
-Exactly. -Yes.
-[Judge Brogdon] Pandemonium. Mr. Hargrove,
are you a family man? [Hargrove] I am a family man. -And you have babies?
-Absolutely. This kind of thing
changes a marriage. Uh, changes a lot of things
that are meaningful, true? [Hargrove] And I truly
sympathize with him, but at the same time
it is not the fault of our company. I wish he just would’ve
paid attention to all the warnings
that were there ahead of time. We could’ve, really,
resolved the whole issue. How’s he to know that? [narrator]Coming up…[Hargrove] Okay,
so we have signs, so when you walk
into the park, the sign says,
“Ride at your own risk.” -[Judge Brogdon] That’s
the entrance to your park?
-[Hargrove] Yes, sir. Was that posted the day
that Mr. and Mrs. Simmons and their little boy
came into the park? Yes, sir.
It’s posted every day. [Judge Brogdon] Now,
did you see that sign? Did either of you
see that sign? [both] No, Your Honor. I mean, it’s kind of
right there, -why wouldn’t you see
the sign?
-Like he said, they have over
seven million people come during the summer. The park was at
full capacity. You did walk in
that entrance though. -I mean…
-[Simmons] Yes, I walked in, actually to the left. [Judge Brogdon] That is
a big sign though, right? I mean, they make it
big like that so seven million people
can see it. -[Hargrove] Your Honor.
-Right? That’s not
the only place it is. That is at the beginning,
at the entrance, but we have the signs
pasted all over the park. Well, he’s doing
the bare minimum, he has the signs
for the protocol
doing the bare minimum and not really
caring about the people. Because you should’ve told us
when we were buying the ticket. Mr. Simmons, I see
from the documents that you have submitted
to this court that you have
$200,000 in medical expenses. Tell me about your injuries. I broke my neck
when I collided into the wall. [sighs] It was… probably the most
excruciating pain. I still deal with
this every day, I can’t turn,
I have limited vision. They had to do the fusion and now I have
to wear this brace. [Judge Brogdon] Yes, sir. It makes everything tough and this isn’t my only injury. Now, you’ve got your arm
up in this sling, tell me about that. Yes, so… while I took damage
to my arm. I broke my collar bone. Okay, now we’ve got
another X-ray, this circle shows
a bone broken, is that your clavicle? [Simmons] Yes, sir. [Judge Brogdon] Okay,
how has this and these injuries affected you being a dad? I feel like I’m not. I can’t pick my son up, I see him when he comes in
and he’ll try to play and I can’t ’cause
I’m just in excruciating pain. [Judge Brogdon] And that’s
pretty bad. Yeah, and I sympathize
with him. I sympathize with
his pain and his suffering. -[Judge Brogdon]
That’s good to hear.
-But it’s not our fault. He violated the weight policy. I don’t see anything
on here about a weight policy. How’s it supposed to work? The weight policy just
informs all of our riders, um, that if you’re above
a certain weight, this is not the ride for you
because it could cause you some type of issue, now… Above a certain weight?
What weight? [Hargrove] Yeah,
it depends on the ride. And be careful,
I’m 235 pounds. Okay, on this ride
particularly, the weight is 300 pounds. [Judge Brogdon] Okay. Mr. Simmons is clearly
over 300 pounds. [Judge Brogdon] How would
he know about
the 300-pound limit? We have a sign,
we have sign We have a sign,
we have sign posted on the ride. -You submitted that sign
to the court?
-[Hargrove] Yes, sir. [Judge Brogdon] All right,
let’s take a look at it. The red circle says
maximum weight 300 pounds. [Hargrove] Yes, sir. [Judge Brogdon] Okay
and you expect that
he would see that? [Hargrove] Yes, sir. Now, Mr. Simmons,
I’m asking here gently how much do you weigh, sir? 365. And were you 365
thereabouts on the day that you rode
this Devil’s Descent. -Yes, Your Honor.
-Now… sitting here in this courtroom, this looks like it’s plain
as the day is long, that 300 pounds
or more, you shouldn’t ride this ride. Did you see this sign? -[Simmons] No, Your Honor.
-[Judge Brogdon] So, you
weren’t paying attention again? And the park is crowded,
I mean, how can we see that? You know, you expect
the excitement. We’re just going in
to have a good time. [Hargrove] Your Honor,
it’s not crowded at
the top of the slide. There’s only one person
at a time. You’re reading my mind there,
Mr. Hargrove. He’s overweight, sir.
He’s fat. -I’m sorry. He’s fat.
-[audience gasping] Be respectful.
We’re not gonna do that here. That is inappropriate,
it is out of line. -[audience clapping]
-[Hargrove] Yes, Your Honor. We’re trying to get to
the truth here. [Hargrove] Yes, Your Honor,
I understand. But it’s not my fault
that he’s overweight. It is not my fault
that he didn’t pay attention
to the signs. We have them
all over the park on each ride. I just noticed it
on this picture right now. [Marjorie] But you do have
a responsibility
to let us know, like you should have
the responsibility to tell us. Someone should’ve
said something. Someone should’ve
said something. Ma’am, ma’am,
we did let you know. We put signs up,
we don’t have people walking around with
microphones checking everybody, -it’s seven million
people there.
-Well, you should. Because clearly it’ll hurt
someone if it’s overweight. Other than the weight policy. We have two sets
of inner tubes that’s up there, the smaller inner tubes
are for children. The bigger inner tubes
are for the adults. Okay, this is the bigger
inner tube. This is the inner tube
for adults, it has less air in it. So it travels down
at a slower rate. He chose… to get on
the smaller inner tube. How would he know? How would he know
which is for whom? We’re not mind readers. [Judge Brogdon] Apparently,
Mr. Hargrove, this is important to you. It is important
and they are separated, the small ones are
set to the side for children, it says “kids”
and the large ones are to the other side
for adults. How do they select
the tube? [Hargrove] Now we have
a lifeguard at the top. -At all times?
-[Hargrove] At all times. Okay, and you brought
a witness with you, -is this your life guard?
-This is my life guard. [Judge Brogdon]
Who was there that day. Ms. Annie Davis is your name? -Yes, Your Honor.
-Would you stand up, please? -And come to the podium.
-Yes, sir. [Judge Brogdon]
When you saw him, did you have
any thoughts or concerns about your safety rules? Yes, sir, I asked him
if he was sure that he should be
riding the ride, um, insinuating to him that I thought he may be over
the weight limit. [Judge Brogdon] Well,
why not just say to him, “Sir, there’s a 300 pound
weight limit, I don’t know how much
you weigh, I don’t mean
to embarrass you. But if you’re over
300 pounds, you can’t ride this ride.” I won’t be embarrassed
if you’re trying to save
my life. That was my concern
of embarrassing him or offending him
and I assumed that he understood
where I was going with that. Based on
the non-verbal communication. What would make you
assume that? His eye contact with me
and my… and my, um,
designating this sign that I was sure
that he saw. I was always taught
that you were supposed to make eye contact
with everyone so that didn’t mean
anything, if you felt like
my life was in danger. [Judge Brogdon] Ms. Davis,
when you see that he’s gonna ride
the ride, did you try to stop him? Sir, I turned around
and I noticed that he was using the kid-sized tube, so at that point,
I assumed he was okay with the weight limit
and that he was affirming to me he was under it and so I turned
to replace the inner tube that he had grabbed
which is for a child’s size… -[Judge Brogdon] So when he–
-…for an adult size. When he reaches
to grab the child’s inner tube, you took that as, uh, -he’s saying to you…
-He’s confirmed that -he’s below…
-…”I’m under 300 pounds.” -Yes, Your Honor.
-As a professional, I feel like if you know
that my life is on the line at your park, you should be able
to say something like– There’s a lot of assuming. [Hargrove] Again,
when she said to you… When she said you,
“Are you sure
you wanna do this?” And you looked at her
and kind of nodded, -she assumed that
you are under–
-So, a nod is– She assumed that
you are under the weight. -[Marjorie] It’s her job.
-So she reached to give you -the correct tube…
-How many words
are in a nod? She turned around
and you were gone. How do we know
that what’s she doing? -How is he supposed to know
that’s what she’s doing?
-You didn’t look at the sign. -[gavel banging]
-Let’s have order in the court. [Judge Brogdon] Mrs. Simmons,
let’s go back. Your husband and you… passed two signs and then disregarded two piles,
one’s big, one’s small. [Marjorie] That’s the reason
why you have people up there to help guide and tell you.
If I’m grabbing the wrong tube, tell me. If I’m gonna
hurt myself on this ride, tell me.
We’re not mind readers. -[audience clapping]
-She didn’t even
open her mouth. What’s eye contact? Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, Mr. Hargrove, I think
I’ve heard enough. I’m ready to
render my decision. This case has to fit
under the legal framework of a personal injury case. There are basically
three elements. Personal injury case
is like a three-legged stool. If one of them
is missing, then the stool fails
and so does your case. You all have to prove, that Mr. Hargrove
and his employees were wrong. That their wrong caused, second leg, your injuries. Clearly, you were injured. Now the evidence is
not that simple in this case. The evidence in this case,
you all went to the park for a good family outing, but it does not go
without noticing things that are there
to protect you. Mr. Hargrove was very specific
in pointing out signs at the entrance and then on the ride,
both that tell you, “Warning, you do this at your own risk.” Mr. Hargrove had a sign
that had a weight limit on it. Now both of those, you all have described, you basically
walking by ’em and that troubles me. Then you get to the top and there are two sets
of tubes, you grab the small one
without really inquiring as to which one
is for adults. You also did not heed
obviously a gentle but pointed question,
“Should you ride this ride?” Now, Mr. Hargrove, these are the essence
of your systems and protocols, safety has to be first, the signs, a lifeguard
at the top, someone to warn him, but the, “Should you ride” is a little soft
when the result can be absolutely tragic. Here, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons,
you have proven that Mr. Hargrove’s employees
were wrong that first leg of the stool. That is they violated
their own systems and protocols by not stopping you
but I cannot ignore that you disregarded
three safety measures that were put in place, so you bear some
responsibility. Now in this case,
Mr. and Mrs. Simmons, you are suing for
$200,000 in medical expenses, uh, $1.8 million
in pain and suffering for a total of $2,000,000. I am not going
to give you that because you are
partially responsible. I am reducing
your $2,000,000 award sought to $1.5 million. I am going to find
in your favor -and against Mr. Hargrove…
-[audience clapping] …for $1.5 million. -And this court is adjourned.
-[gavel banging] [Judge Brogdon]
Our Attorneys Across America
just viewed this case
for the first time.
Let’s hear what
Terry Crouppen has to say.
Serious injuries can have
a devastating effect not just on the injured victim but also on their family. This is especially true
when the person injured is the primary bread winner. When they can’t work,
the paychecks stop but the bills don’t. This stress
can be overwhelming, that’s why lost wages
are such a big part of Personal Injury

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