The following is a release from Goodwin Group PR on the SJC decision:
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently affirmed the $20.6 million award in the 2006 death of 29-year old wife and mother Robin Aleo. Aleo suffered severe neck injuries after an inflatable pool slide imported and sold by Toys “R” Us collapsed causing her head to strike the pool’s deck. She was taken to a local hospital where she later died as a result of her injuries.
“The decision affirms the important role of our Courts in the safety of consumer products,” said Lexington attorney Thomas Smith, principal of Sugarman and Sugarman PC who tried the case with his partner Ben Zimmermann. “We are pleased that the Court reaffirmed the deterrence which lawsuits provide against the importation of dangerous products from abroad.”
Following the trial, a superior court judge denied Toys “R” Us’s motion for a new trial and verdict reduction based on Toys R Us’ misconduct. “The risk of danger arising from defendants’ omissions was great…..The inexcusable failure to perform the tests necessary to avoid that danger was in every sense of the word, ‘reprehensible.’”
In its finding, the SJC upheld the jury’s original finding that Toys “R” Us was grossly negligent in importing and selling the slide, stating “On this evidence, the jury could have determined that Toys “R” Us's conduct evinced ‘want of even scant care’ as to the safety of its customers. The jury could have found that Toys “R” Us was indifferent to the safety of its customers, had no financial incentive to ensure that the slide was safe, and exercised a manifestly smaller amount of watchfulness and circumspection than the circumstances require[d] of a person of ordinary prudence.” The Court also noted that Toys “R” Us’s conduct “caused grievous physical harm, evinced an indifference to the safety of others, and involved repeated actions.”