Brenden Jordan, 7, died after a folding table attached to an indoor school wall collapsed.
The accident occurred while the boy was playing with a soccer ball in the gym at Berkley Street Elementary School in New Milford, New Jersey. He was at a practice for the upcoming recreational soccer season opener. In the gym there were fold-down lunch tables and benches recessed into the wall. Jordan was playing near one of them when the structure fell open, CBS New York reported (1.8.15).
When the table fell open, the child was struck on the side of his head by a bench. It was unreported whether the boy had touched the table.
According to CBS News, School Superintendent Michael Polizzi said that the table folds vertically into the wall and has benches attached to both sides. He also said that the table was secured with a key.
The incident is being investigated. Investigators will almost certainly check to see whether the table unit had been properly locked. Folding tables are known to be dangerous. In 1989 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned about the dangers of folding tables. In 2012, the CPSC also issued a warning on the potential safety risk of the tables.
According to CBS News, the latter warning came after several deaths and injuries in schools were reported. The best safety precaution would be to remove any table of this type. However, if that is not possible, children should not be allowed to play on or near these tables. If the tables are in a room with children, they should be secured with a lock, rope or cable. Tables are not supposed to fall on children. This means it is likely that someone is liable for the death and the victim’s family may recover compensation.
Under product liability law, “any person who foreseeably could have been injured by a defective product can recover for his or her injuries, as long as the product was sold to someone.” The manufacturer or seller of the table may have liability depending on whether the table is considered defective or unreasonably dangerous.
Those responsible for maintenance of the table may also be scrutinized. One of the top priorities of a school is to make sure the environment is safe for students. To hold a school employee liable, he or she must have breached their duty of care to a student and the result of their action or inaction is linked to the student’s injuries. An experienced lawyer can help determine liability in a personal injury or wrongful death case.