Bob Brzezinski, and
Erin Oglesby of Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C., together with August Toudouze of Toudouze
Law, and with the assistance of Sam Royston, recently obtained a jury
verdict of $17,047,000 for a teenage boy injured by a
defective product designed, sold, and manufactured by the defendant company. Our client
was attending a Christian youth convention, where he sustained a serious
and permanent brain injury as a result of participating in a bouncy-boxing
match in which an opponent repeatedly struck our client in the head with
the company’s product. The defective product at issue was the company’s
oversized boxing gloves, which were designed, manufactured, and sold by
the company’s sole officer, president, and owner.
We alleged that warnings and instructions associated with the gloves were
defective, and the company was negligent in designing and warning of risks
and instructing use of its oversized gloves. The product designer and
manufacturer had no background in product design or engineering, engaged
in no testing or research, and consulted with no outside sources in creating
a product that had the sole purpose of inviting children, aged three and
above, to repeatedly punch each other in the head and body. The “design
process” included a single non-technical drawing which was sent
to a seamstress, who sewed the product together. The company performed
absolutely no testing or research regarding the appropriate materials
and polymers to use in the gloves. In fact, the company’s only “testing”
was to have employees and children of employees go at it with the gloves.
The gloves’ padding was both insufficient in terms of its polymer
and material makeup, and lacking in that the only area seemingly protected
was the front of the fist. The wrist and thumb areas, on the other hand,
were exposed, which lead to fist-to-face blows being landed on our client.
Additionally, the gloves weighed nearly five pounds each. This weight
made matters worse because participants would get tired after straight-on
punching with jabs and would instead punch rotationally with hooks. As
participants’ arms further tired, they would stop guarding their
faces and heads. Rotational punching with this product was an issue because
plaintiffs presented expert testimony at trial that rotational impact
forces to the head are more capable of producing serious
brain injuries, and the unprotected area of participants fists were more likely to come
in straight contact with an opponent’s head.
Additionally, there were no warnings regarding the risks associated with
use of the gloves and no instructions regarding the proper use of the
gloves was present anywhere on the product or with anything associated
with the bouncy boxing activity (e.g., the inflatable boxing ring, the
owner’s manual, etc.) In fact, there were no instructions or warnings
of any kind on the gloves, nor was there any information on the gloves
identifying the defendant company as the designer and manufacturer.
The company contested our client’s injury, arguing that our client
suffered no head injury, but rather that our client had underlying psychiatric
issues which produced his symptoms. This defense was partly based on the
fact that our client’s MRIs and CT scans were negative, but medical
experts agreed at trial that most injuries of our client’s type
would not be visible on traditional imaging scans and defendant's
experts agreed that injuries of this type normally produce negative imaging.
Plaintiffs presented expert medical testimony from a physician who performed
an enhanced MRI with diffuse tensor imaging (DTI), which showed objective
evidence of our client’s brain injury. The company contested the
reliability of DTI, and maintained that it was an emerging technology,
not useful in clinical settings. Nonetheless, the company’s attempt
largely failed when its neuro-radiology expert was excluded because she
admitted to having no experience with DTI.
The defendant company also argued that our client’s injuries, if
any, resulted from our client removing his headgear during part of the
fight. Plaintiff presented the only applicable expert testimony, which
explained that the headgear would have had no effect.
Additionally, the company blamed our client’s injuries on a lack
of supervision from the church and youth chaperones, and from the entity
that organized the youth convention. Testimony from lay and expert witnesses
established several periods in which the convention’s assigned supervisor
of the boxing activity (a 19-year-old bible college student with no medical
or boxing background) was not supervising the activity. The company’s
other argument was that the injuries were caused by the inflatable rental
company’s failure to give proper instructions to the youth leaders
and chaperones regarding the supervision of participants. Testimony showed
that the rental company failed to explain the importance of close supervision
of the activity.
After an eleven-day trial, the jury awarded our client $10,547,000 in actual
damages and $6,500,000 in punitive damages against the company that made
and sold the oversized boxing gloves. The jury assessed 30% of the fault
against the company, 1% against our client, 4% against our client’s
church, 30% against our client’s church’s governing body,
and 35% against the inflatable rental company. The other entities settled
To get in touch with the San Antonio personal injury lawyers at Tom Rhodes
Law Firm P.C., please call us at (210) 265-6543.