Close on the heels of the unsafe-safe case comes this filing in San Francisco, which also appears to be a remarkable failure-to-warn case:
Blu Morris v. City and County of San Francisco, No. CGC-10-498974 (filed Apr. 23, 2010).
Premises liability lawsuit. The plaintiff slid on a plastic tray down a slide at the defendant’s Seward St. Mini-Park and landed on his tailbone at the end because the defendant failed to warn about the improper drop-off/exit from the slide or the slide’s excessive slope.
Further research appears to confirm what I had only dared to dream: that the plaintiff is not a child, but rather a 39-year-old adult male who, having injured himself due to being unable to dismount properly from a slide, then sued the slide owners alleging that he should have been warned the slide was steep and/or that it had a “drop-off” at the end. (The fact that said adult is a self-proclaimed “celebrity stylist” is an irrelevant additional bonus fact.)
The slide in question, a 30-year-old structure that is part of the Corwin Community Garden and Seward Street Mini-Park, does indeed appear to be steep and to have a “drop-off” at the end:
But as at least some of you surely recall, pretty much every slide has a “drop-off” at the end.
Actually, my guess is that a slide without a drop-off might be defective, because the slider would not be able to put his or her feet down (which, by the way, is what one does at the end of a slide). I don’t see anything unusual about the drop-off of the Seward Street slide; the scale is a little difficult to judge from the picture above, but based on this older shot (right) it does not seem to be too far off the ground. It is a little unusual to have a slide made of cement, which is not the most slippery of substances, but it appears to be well-known that using this slide requires a small sled or tray or piece of cardboard for sliding purposes, and the plaintiff was obviously aware of this because he used a tray. Why he was not similarly aware of the slide’s slope, or the nature of its drop-off, is something he will presumably be explaining in response to an upcoming motion of some kind. Although that may not matter, in view of the applicability of the assumption-of-the-risk doctrine, which is a little bizarre in California but which I think will almost certainly apply to the activity of sliding.
This will provide deserved protection to the owners of the slide, which is not only frequently used (successfully) by the children of San Francisco but in fact was voted “Best Place to Be a Kid Again” in 2007 by the adult readers of SF Weekly. That report does note that it is possible to “land — boom — on your ass” at the conclusion of the slide, but describes that as “exhilarating” and “fun,” not as a “defect.” It also notes, probably unnecessarily, that care must be taken when using the slide, especially if one has been drinking.
I express no opinion as to whether alcohol may have been involved in this particular case.