SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Lawmakers are pushing to regulate trampoline parks following a 600% increase in emergency room visits over the past five years.
In most cases locally, if you do get injured at a trampoline park, you can forget about suing because the park can sue you back.
Jason Freewalt is facing months of rehabilitation after jumping into a foam pit at the Get Air trampoline park near Chicago.
“I can’t describe it. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever had,” Freewalt said.
Diondre Hurn is recovering from a similar accident at the Jump Highway trampoline park in Fairfield. Surveillance video shows paramedics pulling the CHP officer out of the foam pit as his family watched in horror.
CBS News found that over the past seven years, at least six people have died at trampoline parks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 18,000 ended up in emergency rooms in 2017 alone. Yet the parks operate with no federal oversight, and in most cases, if you get injured, you can’t sue.
“Trampoline parks want to avoid justice. They want to rig the system against anyone who is injured who may assert claims against them,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal wants trampoline parks to be held liable for the injuries at their facilities. In many cases, visitors sign waivers with forced arbitration clauses, meaning they give up the right to take their cases to court.
For instance, court records show a Sacramento family tried to sue Sky-High Sports in Rancho Cordova in 2008 after their son was injured just days before his ninth birthday. But according to court records, the boy’s mom signed a waiver, so Sky-High sued her back. The complaints were eventually dismissed.
Today, that liability waiver is the first thing you see on the Sky-High Sports website, and we found similar waivers for all the top-rated trampoline parks in the area. It’s something Blumenthal says helps the industry to hide the problem.
“They’re trying to hide individual deaths, the total number, everything about these injuries that may cast them in a bad light,” Blumenthal said.
While Freewalt also signed a waiver, he is still speaking out.
“When you go to places like this, you sort of trust in the fact that things are safe,” Freewalt said.
The Hurns have decided to try and sue Jump Highway anyway, but the business has since closed and declared bankruptcy.
Sky High Sports is now under new ownership. The previous owners did not return our request for comment about suing the family of the injured boy, but the world’s largest trampoline park company, Circus Trix, said, as with any sport, there are inherent risks, but they are committed to ongoing safety evaluations and take numerous measures to reduce risk at their parks.