Virtual rock climber takes The Edge to court

Ann Knef Jan. 15, 2007, 4:05am

April Kassebaum of Columbia claims severe and permanent injuries to her left leg, knee and foot after falling from a motorized rock-climbing simulator at The Edge in Belleville in March 2006.

Represented by Patrick R. Foley of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner & Thompson in Belleville, Kassebaum filed a six-count negligence and premises and product liability suit against defendants Dahm & Schell, doing business as The Edge, Ascent Products and Spectrum Sports International.

The Edge is a family gaming facility offering arcades, miniature golf, laser tag and an interactive, mechanized rock climbing simulator, "FunROCK."

The rock is approximately 10 feet, four inches tall and operates as a large vertical conveyor belt with hand and footholds for climbing. As the user climbs, the conveyor rotates toward the user and the whole unit tilts at various angles in order to simulate the contours of a real mountain face.

According to the suit filed Jan. 5 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Kassebaum was climbing FunROCK when it abruptly stopped its rotation causing her to lose her footing and fall from the machine.

"Plaintiff remained on the floor in pain and unable to get up on her own for approximately 20 minutes following the fall during which time no employee and/or agent of, defendant, The Edge, inquired as to her condition, offered to call an ambulance and/or offered to assist her in any way," the complaint states.

"Ultimately, two fellow patrons offered to assist plaintiff to be transported to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville."

Kassebaum claims The Edge did not provide customers with safety harnesses, safety net, adequate padding, helmets or pads, nor did the facility advise customer to use their own.

Her suit claims The Edge knew, or should have known, of the inherently dangerous nature of the equipment; and of the danger of using the equipment without any safety equipment of any kind.

She also claims the facility should have known of the danger of using the equipment without any professional supervision.

Kassebaum claims Ascent, which was purchased by Spectrum Sports International, manufactured defective equipment, as well as did not include adequate safety apparatus with FunROCK.

She also claims the manufacturer did not include reasonable suggestions regarding the use of safety equipment while climbing FunROCK.

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