Written by John Schneider
Case tried in Texas, Travis County
Case Richard Edison, individually and as next friend of J.E., a minor v. Main Event Entertainment, L.P., Charles Keegan and Ryan Walsh, No. D-1-GN-14-005342
Court Travis County District Court, 126th
Judge Darlene Byrne
Leonard B. Gabbay, Leonard B. Gabbay P.C., Austin, TX
Frank A. Piazza Jr., Brothers Alvarado, P.C., Houston, TX
Facts & Allegations
On Dec. 28, 2014, plaintiff Richard Edison took his three minor daughters and their friends to Main Event Entertainment Center in Austin. They signed up for the Rock Wall, a 28-foot-high, 9,000-square-foot climbing feature. The feature has an automatic belay system, with a rope connected to each climber’s harness. A Main Event employee gives a safety talk to climbers, including the parents of any minor climbers. After Edison’s 14-year-old daughter finished climbing, she was standing at the base of the wall. She unhooked the rope and clipped it to the wall, but her friends then convinced her to keep climbing. She climbed the wall without reattaching the rope to her harness. She reached the top and then leaned back, forgetting that was not attached to a rope. She fell 28 feet to the floor and broke her right femur. Charles Keegan was Main Event’s CEO.
Edison, for himself and his daughter, sued Main Event Entertainment L.P., Keegan and Walsh for not having enough staff for the number of patrons using the wall on a busy, post-Christmas evening. The defense acknowledged that the ration of staff to patrons was one to 12. Depositions of Main Event personnel showed that, of the three employees in the Rock Wall area, one was manning the cash register and signing people up for the wall, and another was handing out harnesses and climbing shoes and giving the safety talk. Only one employee was left to supervise climbers in the 9,000-square-foot climbing area, plaintiffs’ counsel said.
Before this incident, plaintiffs’ counsel had another case against Main Event arising out of a similar incident involving a 13-year-old girl. In that case, CEO Keegan testified in deposition that there was no reason not to try increasing staff to supervise climbers. The deposition was about a year before the Edison incident, and Main Event did not increase staff during that time, plaintiffs’ counsel said.
The defense denied negligence. The defense argued that the 14 year old climber and her father went through the safety talk and should have known better than to not have climbed without first hooking in to the belay system. They further argued that the damages to the minor did not leave any permanent disfigurement, any future pain, and no future impairment.
The minor plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. She sustained a fractured right femur.
She underwent surgical placement of a titanium rod and a course of physical therapy. During her recovery, she could not work out, but she recovered completely and was able resume doing so.
Her paid or incurred medical bills were about $31,000. She also sought past physical pain and mental anguish and physical impairment.
The case settled for $875,000. The settlement was approved by the court on May 12, 2017. The primary policy limit was $1 million.
After the lawsuit was filed, Main Event installed belay guards, which are mechanical devices designed to help prevent people from climbing the wall without being clipped to the belay system.
Demand None reported
Offer None reported
Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. for all defendants
Age: None reported
Occupation: None reported
Married: None reported
Children Description: None reported
Age: 14 Years
Occupation: None reported
Children Description: injured party