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Over $20 Million Paid For Playground Injuries

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Over the past decade injuries on city playgrounds have cost taxpayers over $20 million. According to a recent comptroller report 577 claims against the Parks Department have been filed by parents in the past ten years. Between 2005 and 2014 personal injury claims have risen 53%. The Comptroller’s office is analyzing lawsuit data to find trouble spots at city agencies.

Obviously and thankfully most playground accidents are minor and do not amount to lawsuits. However, more significant accidents do occur not too infrequently and besides for saving taxpayer dollars, no one wants to see children getting injured.

So far data has revealed two playgrounds which rank higher than others for injuries. Upon closer inspection of these playgrounds it seems that a spinning disc ride is mostly responsible for the increased numbers. While children are spinning on the discs they can be easily thrown off, falling to the floor without any protective mats to prevent harmful impacts.

Seven claims were filed due to injuries at the Bronx’s Mullaly Park Playground. Parents’ complaints included criticisms of the spinning wheel, sprinkler play area and broken/uneven sidewalks.

Another seven claims were filed against East Harlem’s Dr. Ronald E. McNair Playground. Each of these seven complaints involved a wheel ride. In one of these seven case a father claimed his youngster fractured a forearm after falling from the wheel ride. The father demanded $10 million but settled for $75,000.

Of the 577 claims filed against the city, Brooklyn had the most with 209 cases, followed by Manhattan with 123 claims. Bronx and Queens playgrounds each had 111 claims and Staten Island received 23.

Other common complaints included rubber mats that burn too hot during the summer. Similar complaints were made against a steel climbing dome in Manhattan’s Union Square Park, which heats up enough to burn children in the summer months

The Parks Department is reviewing the Comptroller’s report. According to a Parks spokesperson all the spinning disc rides have been removed and many are undergoing redesign.

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