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Toys R Us hopes to overturn $20M award with appeal

Toys R Us is slated to ask a state court to reverse a five-year-old ruling that called for it to hand over $20 million to the family of a 29-year-old woman who died after using an inflatable pool slide sold by the company. The woman suffered fatal injuries when the slide collapsed, causing her to strike her head against a concrete deck. Her family sued Toys R Us, arguing that they failed to comply with federal safety rules.

According to the Michigan-based Detroit Free Press, Toys R Us contends that the family's product liability lawsuit and subsequent award was based on a regulation that does not apply to inflatable pool slides, but rather rigid slides. Additionally, the toy retailer asserts that the plaintiffs wrongfully inflamed the jury by claiming that it imported and marketed an "illegal" product, despite the fact that Toys R Us sold the slide having received a certification confirming the slide's accordance with all pursuant safety regulations.

The plaintiffs' attorney accused Toys R Us of violating the 1976 Consumer Product Safety Commission by selling the inflatable slide, arguing that the company never tested the Chinese-imported slide to determine if it was safe.

Toys R Us denied those claims, arguing that inflatable slides did not exist in 1976 and that the CPSC only covered the rigid pool slides popular at the time. Additionally, the company received testimony that the victim had misused the slide by diving onto it head first, but the court disallowed that testimony from the trial.

A trade group known as the Toy Industry Association filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Toys R Us, agreeing that the CPSC's rules do not properly account for inflatable pool slides. The brief said the Commission never considered "injury due to loss of air pressure," the safety issue alleged in the lawsuit.

Source:  Detroit Free Press, "Toys R Us appeals $20M award in tot's slide death" Denise LaVoie, May. 05, 2013

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