In the past five years, the city has paid roughly $20 million in 566 settlements for city playground-related personal injury claims, according to city records obtained by the New York Daily News. In the past 10 years, the number of playground-related legal claims rose 53%, a report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer showed in March.
The Parks Department maintained that its approximately 1,000 playgrounds are safe and routinely inspected and repaired. However, many cases suggest that the department has often overlooked, neglected and failed to deliver timely repairs to dangerous parts in its playgrounds.
In a NBC4 I-Team report, they found that 197 work orders labeled “immediate attention” were unaddressed for at least four months between March 2014 and March 2015.
“This stuff is happening all over the place,” Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, a watchdog group, told the Daily News. “We don’t have the employees to properly respond to these issues, and people are getting hurt as a result.”
In one case which happened in 2007, six-year-old Eridania Martinez was going down a slide in Howard Playground in East New York when her finger caught on a piece of sharp metal protruding from the top of the slide, which took off her right middle finger. She was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, but doctors were unable to reattach it.
Her family sued the city, which awarded the family with $750,000 in 2013, marking the largest playground-related settlement in the past five years, the Daily News reported. The Martinez’s lawyer contends that the city was aware of the problem with that particular slide yet after multiple repairs, they never used the right pieces on the slide.
In another case involving 8-year-old William Pleasant in 2006, the boy fell from the monkey bars and landed on worn out padding at Lindower Park in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. The boy suffered a fractured left elbow. According to Parks Department records, the city inspector had flagged the spot as being in need of repair a few weeks before the incident, but nothing was done. The city paid a $350,000 settlement to the boy’s family.
A spokeswoman said the city has instituted a new citywide initiative to standardize its playground safety protocols and reduce delays. Some of these changes include adding a playground supervisor for each borough, and creating a digital map of all work orders, according to the Daily News.
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If you or a loved one has been injured in a premises liability accident, such as a playground-related personal injury, please contact Jared Levine of Morgan Levine Dolan at 212-461-499 today.