A Clark County District Court jury returned a $20 million verdict last week in a civil case filed by a teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a playground accident.
In 2013, 15-year-old Carl Thompson sat down on a swingset at Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs to send a text message. The 42-pound metal crossbar then broke, landed on his head and crushed the left side of his skull.
A jury on Feb. 15 found the Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs Homeowners Association responsible for Thompson’s injuries, awarding $10 million in compensatory damages for his pain and suffering and $10 million in punitive damages, according to a statement released Thursday by Lasso Injury Law LLC.
“Carl is grateful the jury saw the harm caused by the HOA,” said one of Thompson’s attorneys, Al Lasso. “The verdict will hopefully ensure that this never happens to another child again.”
The attorney said Thompson, now 20, suffers from headaches, memory loss, movement problems with his right arm and an increased risk of developing dementia.
“He can’t remember things. He can’t sleep at night. He has overwhelming anxiety. He has severe, at times crippling, migraines and muscle spasms,” Lasso said.
The HOA’s attorneys, Patrick Orme and Edward Boyack, could not be reached for comment. The association’s insurance policy limit is $2 million, Lasso said.
“They had a chance to get out for the amount of their policy, but they took the risk,” Lasso said. “We believe the insurance company is responsible for the entire verdict.”
Thompson’s other attorney, Sean Claggett, blamed the accident on the HOA’s negligence.
“They had warning sign after warning sign that this would have hurt or killed someone,” Claggett said. “We’re devasted by that. If it would have been a smaller child, this kid would have died.”
Lasso’s investigation found that the HOA had spent over $50,000 on landscaping and $78,000 on other repairs and maintenance in 2013 alone and had over half a million dollars in its bank accounts, according to the statement from his law firm.
“There had been four previous incidents in which the top bar fell, including one after the HOA welded it together and it still fell,” Lasso said in the statement. “The manufacturer told them they needed to have the swingset professionally inspected and maintained. And on three separate occasions, the HOA was offered an inspection plan for just $150 a month.”
The HOA declined, citing cost, though the plan could have been paid for with just a 50-cent increase in dues from each of the approximately 300 homes, according to the law firm’s statement.
Thompson, whose passion is singing, has been working hard to get back to his normal life. His injury took away his ability to perform, but he still tries to make music.
“He can walk, he can talk, he can get around. He still has a life, and we were glad to help provide for his lifelong needs,” Lasso said.