Taylor & Ring, a Los Angeles-based trial law firm which handles personal injury and wrongful death matters, obtained a nearly $3 million verdict on Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court against the East Bay Regional Park District. A jury found that the park was responsible for the severe burns suffered by a 10-year-old boy at one of the District's park campsites.
On June 2, 2012 at the Anthony Chabot Regional Park, the boy was walking alongside a raised fire pit underneath a gazebo at the Hawk Ridge campsite when he slipped on residue from charcoal and branches that had collected around the fire pit. He tried to break his fall, but his outreached right hand entered into the fire pit. He suffered second and third degree burns to his hand and forearm.
Park rangers had inspected the fire pit hours before the incident. Yet, the rangers overlooked the fact that embers reaching 1000 degrees were still burning under a top layer of ash. Rangers were required to extinguish any fire left in the fire pit before turning it over to the next group of visitors who rented the campsite.
“The boy suffered horrible burns. His hand is permanently disfigured. He has gone through a lot in the past three years,” said lead attorney David M. Ring. “This was a hidden danger. The main reason for the rangers' inspection is to ensure any remaining fire is extinguished in order to prevent this exact type of incident from occurring."
Since the accident, the boy has undergone multiple skin graft surgeries to his right hand and forearm which are permanently scarred and disfigured. The boy was hospitalized for two weeks following the incident and will likely require more surgeries as he gets older
The Alameda County jury found that the District was legally liable for creating a dangerous condition of public property. The trial lasted three weeks.