The plaintiffs, a then 12 year-old boy, along with a friend, were playing with a toy projectile manufactured by the defendant toy company. While using the toy, the projectile fired, causing the projectile to strike the minor plaintiff in his left eye, resulting in retinal detachment.
The parents of the minor plaintiff, who were at home at the time of the incident, heard their son scream and ran to his aid. When they found him, he was holding his left eye and stated that he could not see. The plaintiff’s parents called his ophthalmologist who performed an emergent evaluation. On examination, the doctor noted severe eye damage and referred the minor to a retina specialist.
The plaintiff was evaluated by a local retina specialist who performed a surgical reattachment of his retina. Unfortunately, the plaintiff developed scar tissue at the reattachment site and the procedure failed. The plaintiff was referred to a Boston retina specialist who performed two additional surgical procedures in an attempt to salvage the vision in the plaintiff’s left eye. Tragically, both these procedures also failed and the minor plaintiff was left with 20/1500 vision (legal blindness) in his left eye.
Further complicating matters was the fact that the minor plaintiff was born with a condition that resulted in decreased vision in both eyes. The traumatic loss of vision in the minor’s left eye (regarded as the better of his two eyes) left him with one functional eye, with diminished vision.
The plaintiff’s complaint, which included counts for both breach of warranty and negligence, alleged that the defendant manufacturer was negligent in its design of the subject toy because the toy was capable of causing serious injury, including blindness, if used without all component parts properly assembled. The plaintiff argued that since the projectile could be fired without all parts properly assembled, it was highly foreseeable to the manufacturer that a child would utilize the fewest essential parts necessary to fire the projectile even if that ran counter to the manufacture’s written warnings.
The defendant countered that the assembly instructions included with the toy were clear and unambiguous, and the plaintiff’s own expert testified that had all the parts been properly assembled, this incident would not have occurred.
The case settled approximately three weeks prior to trial.
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