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Family receives 20M in Wrongful Death Suit - Toyquest -

A Massachusetts jury recently granted an eye-catching verdict to the family of a woman who tragically died in 2006 in an inflatable pool slide accident in Andover, Mass. The jury awarded Robin Aleo's family more than $20 million in her Essex County, Mass., wrongful death lawsuit. The lead defendant in the case was toy retailer Toys"R"Us. The manufacturer of the inflatable pool slide was Toyquest Banzai Falls.

Tragic Pool Accident Left Young Mother Unconscious and Paralyzed

Robin Aleo was not even 30 when she died after hitting her head on the end of the swimming pool, after sliding headfirst down an inflatable pool slide. Apparently, she bottomed out while going down the slide and collided head-first with the end of the pool. Her accident caused her to suffer a broken neck and spinal cord injuries that rendered her paralyzed in the arms and legs. She was not even able to breathe independently. She ultimately was removed from life support systems and officially died at the age of 29. Perhaps, the most tragic detail of Robin Aleo's passing is that her 18-month-old daughter observed the pool accident and had to see her young mother rescued from the pool in an unconscious condition.

Aleo's Family Brought Wrongful Death and Product Liability Litigation Against Pool Slide Manufacturer, Toy Retailer, Others

Aleo's family brought a wrongful death and product liability suit against Toyquest Banzai Falls, which manufactured the inflatable pool slide in China. The suit alleged that the slide was not tested to applicable safety standards in the United States. The family bought the slide at toy retailer Toys"R"Us. That retailer imported the Chinese-made slide into the United States.

Counsel for the toy manufacturer, Toyquest Banzai Falls, claimed the slide's inflatable status exempted Toys"R"Us from the requirement of testing the product to ensure compliance with U.S. safety regulations. Incidentally, federal safety regulations in the United States require that pool slides support 350 pounds of weight without having any structural issues, such as giving way, collapsing, or deforming. There have been a sufficient number of serious injuries and deaths from pool slides to cause the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to promulgate safety regulations. The Aleo family's expert witness testified that the Banzai Falls slide deformed under any amount of weight. The expert also testified that, as a person's weight shifts while on the slide descending, air is displaced, and the slide is not able to support any load whatsoever.

Massachusetts Jury Verdict in Favor of Robin Aleo's Family

The jury awarded Robin Aleo's family $20.6 million in the product liability suit. Those damages included a hefty $18 million for punitive damages to send a strong message to liable defendants. The jury awarded $100,000 in pain and suffering damages to Aleo's family for injuries she suffered prior to her death. Her family was awarded $2.5 million for lost income that Aleo may have earned during her lifetime, were it not for the accident. and SLB Toys USA were also defendants named in the family's suit. Those defendants settled their suit with Robin Aleo's husband, Michael.