Crash Landing in a Foam Pit

Indoor entertainment centers have become all the rage for kids’ birthday parties, youth group outings and family vacation activities. One of the features swelling in popularity is the pit filled with blocks of polyurethane foam into which kids and some fun-loving adults hurl themselves.

The foam is supposed to cushion one’s landing, but many customers have found themselves with serious injuries after something went awry at a trampoline park.

Even worse, some families have lost loved ones who were just out for some good clean fun.

Regulation Changes Can Help Prevent Injury

Ty Thomasson was only 30 years old when he broke five vertebrae in his neck after somersaulting into a shallow foam pit in Phoenix, Arizona. He didn’t know that the foam was less than three feet deep. After his death in 2012, his mother successfully lobbied for a law in Arizona which requires registration and inspections of indoor trampoline parks. Arizona is one of just a handful of states which have passed laws regulating indoor trampoline and foam pit businesses, and there are no federal standards.

Foam Pits: What Goes Wrong

Some injuries happen when patrons flip or jump off of a trampoline into a pit filled with foam blocks. That was the case for the 17-year-old son of Christina Flygare, who suffered spinal cord injuries at a Bellevue, Washington facility. He is now partially paralyzed, a result of hitting his head on the insufficiently padded edge of the trampoline.

Earlier this year, a tragic accident left some little boys with terrible memories of their visit to a foam pit adventure park. It also left the coach of their 10-and-under football team paralyzed. Jonathan Magwood of Union City, Georgia, jumped into a foam pit and broke two vertebrae when he landed on his neck. A lawsuit against the business’s owner, manager and company which constructed the foam pit makes many of the allegations we typically see in the numerous foam pit injury lawsuits being filed across the country:

  • The foam pit was defective and inadequately maintained.
  • Staff failed to provide adequate supervision and safeguards.
  • Patrons were not given reasonable instructions or warnings about use and hazards.
  • Safety warnings and instructional signs were not posted.
  • There were an inadequate number of blocks in the pit.
  • There should have been a net under the blocks with extra blocks under it.
  • The blocks were not high-density foam.
  • The design did not prevent contact with the frame, legs or ground while bouncing.

Foam Pit Safety Concerns

Another issue that arises in foam pit injury litigation is the lack of emergency procedures and staff training. At the Phoenix trampoline park where Ty Thomasson was critically injured, the majority of employees on duty were under 18 years old, did not know how to respond, and were not trained in CPR.

Foam cube pits require maintenance. A facility that does not regularly remove and “fluff” the foam will be exposing users to cubes that are compressed and compacted and do not offer sufficient resilience. Additionally, raw foam breaks down over time, so the cubes should be inspected, replaced and replenished frequently.

Foam Pits in South Carolina

There are a number of trampoline parks in South Carolina, including Sky Zone, Gravitopia and HiWire. You’re likely to find others in amusement parks and in most family vacation spots across the country, with names like Rebounderz, Sky High, and Jumpstreet.

When you enter one, you’ll be expected to sign a waiver of liability. You should be aware, however, that if the facility has failed in its duty to provide safe equipment, supervision and precautions, you may still be able to hold them accountable for injuries caused by their negligence.

For more information about this topic, contact the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia, at (803) 454-1200.