Toys R Us seeks to overturn $20 Million Massachusetts verdict involving inflatable slide.

In the summer of 2006, Robin Aleo, a 29 year old married mom, was visiting relatives in Andover, Massachusetts. A pool was on the premises and Ms. Aleo decided to slide, head first, down an inflatable Toys R Us “Banzai” Pool Slide[pictured above – picture courtesy of JD Journal]. The slide partially collapsed. As her husband and daughter watched, Ms. Aleo slammed her head into a concrete pool deck and suffered a broken neck. She died the next day. A lawsuit was filed on her behalf and in 2011 a Salem, Massachusetts jury awarded Ms. Aleo’s estate $20 million in damages. The verdict included $2.5 million for anticipated lost wages; $100,000 for pain and suffering and $18 million in punitive damages.

Ms. Aleo’s lawyers argued at trial that the slide failed to comply with federal regulations enacted in 1976. Toys R Us claims that legislation only applied to rigid pool slides and not inflatable slides like the one on which Ms. Aleo had attempted to slide. Additionally, the trial court barred Toys R Us from offering any testimony that Aleo “misused” the slide by sliding head first.

On Monday, May 13, 2013, lawyers for Toys R Us will appear before the Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court and request that the trial court verdict be overturned. It is anticipated that the defense will argue that the 1976 standards should not have been utilized, and that the trial court should have allowed testimony detailing precisely how Ms. Aleo had moved down the slide. No word on when a ruling is expected.