A 30-year-old man's $50,000 trampoline injury lawsuit might have broken the piggy bank of his 13-year-old nephew.
But last month Madison County Circuit Judge Lola Maddox bounced Rick Antrobus's case against Tommy Antrobus right out of court.
Rick Antrobus filed suit in 2004 after he sustained "severe and permanent" injuries when his nephew, Tommy Antrobus, failed to warn him that he was jumping near him on a trampoline.
Represented by Lance Mallon of Wood River, Rick Antrobus sued the boy through his mother, Geanna Antrobus.
Geanna Antrobus's lawyer, Tom Zimmer of St. Louis, asked Maddox to dismiss the suit arguing the law does not impose a duty on the owner of a trampoline to warn against the obvious danger of using a trampoline.
"The plaintiff attempts to impose a duty on a minor jumper that is greater than that imposed by the law on the owner of a trampoline," Zimmer wrote. "The dangers of trampolines are open and obvious conditions especially when two persons are jumping."
Zimmer said that the actions of bouncing on a trampoline involve the "inherent risk of contact" while bouncing on a trampoline. He asked Maddox to dismiss the suit for failure to state a cause of action.
Mallon countered that Tommy was negligent because he failed to take proper precautions to keep a proper distance away from his client while they were jumping on the trampoline.
He also claimed Tommy failed to avoid bouncing into his uncle and failed to warn his uncle that he was bouncing near him.
"Nowhere in Illinois law is there a doctrine that the negligent acts of a person on a trampoline are shielded simply because this person is on a trampoline,' Mallon wrote in his response to the motion to dismiss.
"If not for the actions of the defendant, plaintiff would not have been injured," Mallon also argued.
Basing her ruling on a 2002 Illinois Supreme Court decision titled Sollami v. Eaton, Maddox dismissed the case. In Sollami, the court held that landowners owed no duty to a minor plaintiff because the risks of injury from using a trampoline were open and obvious.
Maddox wrote, "Plaintiff attempts to avoid dismissal based on the Illinois Supreme Court case of Sollami by distinguishing that the plaintiff is not suing the owner of the trampoline but rather the 13 year old boy he was jumping with when he was injured."
"The court finds it incongruous that the plaintiff argues that a 13 year old has a duty to maintain a proper distance from him on the trampoline, or control his bouncing, or have warned a 30 year old man of the open and obvious dangers," Maddox wrote.
"Bouncing on a trampoline is not an exact science," Maddox added. "People on trampolines bouncing at the same times occasionally bounce into each other and should expect to do so."
"A minor defendant can have no greater duty to warn about such obvious risks than a manufacturer."
Mallon has asked Maddox for a re-hearing claiming he believes Maddox erred in dismissing his complaint because he should have been given a chance to amend the complaint.
However, Mallon also has withdraw as Rick's attorney due to "differences that have arisen" between he and his client.
Mallon said the differences "renders it difficult" for him to continue to act as his lawyer.
Maddox has yet to set a date for the re-hearing.
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