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Inflatable Amusements: Fun? Or Danger?

3:44 PM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that inflatable amusement rides resulted in 31,000 emergency room visits between 2003 and 2007.

On August 29, 2012, Dominque Thomas, 25, was rushed to a Jacksonville emergency room after being injured on an inflatable amusement ride. "There was an opening in the bottom of it," said Thomas.

The mother of two said she took her children to Big Air Entertainment fun center for a play date. She said they rode the Ninjasaur Double Slide, she and her son. On the way down the slide, Thomas said her foot got caught in an opening. "With the speed and my weight, my ankle got crushed," she said.

She said it changed her life. Due to the injury, her wedding was put on hold and she lost her job. "I have screws and plates inside my foot," said Thomas, "I am still learning to walk again."

Big Air Entertainment closed its indoor inflatable center in August 2013, but still does rentals. "They're still in operation," said Attorney Chris Shakib.

Shakib is with Terrell Hogan. The law firm has filed suit against Big Air Entertainment on behalf of Thomas. "You cannot assume because a place is safe because it is a business," he said.

The lawsuit claims Big Air Entertainment company "negligently maintained" the inflatable slide. "They had one person for the whole area and that was not enough," said Shakib.

Shakib in an amended complaint used court records that contained pending lawsuits involving the same inflatable from injuries. The court records revealed injuries on August 2011, December 2011 and again on July 2012.

"They all involved the same slide, the Ninjasaur," said Shakib, "and they all occurred at the exact same spot where Dominque was hurt and everybody injured the left leg."

Dominque Thomas said the lesson for parents is always ask questions about safety and maintenance before using any inflatable amusement.

We called Safari Nation in Greensboro to find out what kinds of questions parents should ask. One of the most important questions to ask is how often and how thoroughly are the inflatables checked. You can also ask how many people are supervising the inflatables and how they're secured.  If you have to fill out a waiver, read it carefully.  And look for, and make sure everyone is following the posted safety rules on the inflatables.

The owner of Big Air Entertainment, Steve Pitzel, and his attorney J.Kirk Scott of Orlando did not respond to calls nor emails for comment.

Thomas case is expected to to trial sometime in the spring.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said do not enter an inflatable amusement centers if there is no operator/attendant on duty.

You should always for the instructions of the attendant.

The CPSC has more information, click here.

WTLV/ WFMY News 2

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