Playtime Is Over: Mom Sues City Of Detroit For Concussions Sustained On ‘Giant Slide’
All was not fun and games for residents of Detroit, who were excited to try out the new and improved Giant Slide at the city’s beloved Belle Isle and instead found themselves thrown into the air by the 40-foot-long steel attraction.
Videos of children and adults alike, bouncing violently down the slide circulated on Twitter for days last August, and the slide was subsequently shut down only one day after its grand reopening. The hijinks made national news and some riders found themselves featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live during a segment where guest host, actor Lamorne Morris, said “It’s only a dollar, right, but the contusions will last a lifetime,” as the audience laughed.
Well, for one Detroit mother, this is no laughing matter. Francetta Watson alleges that her children, who were then-8 and 10 years old, sustained injuries from hitting their heads on the slide repeatedly. Watson took her children to be evaluated at Detroit Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital the following day where they were both diagnosed with concussions.
According to the formal complaint against the city, the children’s injuries included: “chronic headaches; traumatic brain injury; concussion; physical pain and suffering and discomfort, past, present and future; mental anguish; fright and shock; denial of social pleasures and enjoyment; embarrassment, humiliation and mortification; medical bills and expenses,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
Lawyers for the family say that the family had originally chosen to protect their privacy by remaining anonymous but decided to come forward in hopes they can prevent others from having the same experience. “We don’t know what the city or DNR has done to the slide during this off-period of time,” said Raquel Munoz of Vahdat Weisman Law. “So before they reopen, we want to make sure that the slide is going to be safe and hopefully by filing this lawsuit, it will alert them that they need to re-look at the slide.” The lawsuit also alleges that the City of Detroit knew about the dangers riders faced before reopening the popular attraction last summer. “Because before they opened the park, their employees were riding it and the employees were being projected up and down,” Munoz said, according to Fox 2 Detroit.
The City of Detroit has said that they will seek to be removed from the lawsuit “because the city location does not operate Belle Isle or the giant slide,” a stance Watson’s attorney vehemently disagrees with. “The city of Detroit owns Belle Isle, they had a contract with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources a few years ago. For them to manage the park,” she said. Belle Isle as well as the Giant Slide have been part of children’s fun in the city for many years before closing due to the pandemic and some are wondering if Watson, or any other parents, should bear part of the responsibility for letting their kids ride an attraction that has proven to be dangerous in the past. Munoz says it all comes down to properly warning parents of the dangers of riding. “We don’t know if signage was posted up there and if the proper signage was posted up there,” she said. “We know that after they reopened, they started instructing the riders on how to properly ride.”
Watson is seeking at least $25,000 in damages to cover medical bills and other expenses that have arisen due to her children’s injuries.