Business

Teen who broke neck sues Meridian trampoline center, loses court case

Ryan Dobi does a flip at JumpTime in Boise in this 2013 Statesman file photo. JumpTime, an indoor trampoline park, also has locations in Meridian and Twin Falls.
Ryan Dobi does a flip at JumpTime in Boise in this 2013 Statesman file photo. JumpTime, an indoor trampoline park, also has locations in Meridian and Twin Falls. jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

Updated April 20 to include comments from Seth Griffith’s mother, Amy Griffith.

The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit against a Meridian indoor trampoline center by a teenager who broke his neck attempting a difficult flip.

On Jan. 11, 2014, 17-year-old Seth Griffith, of Boise, was injured when he landed on his head and neck after a triple front flip off a trampoline into a pit filled with foam blocks at JumpTime Meridian. In a triple front flip, a jumper rotates forward three times in the air before landing.

Griffith had been successfully completing double front flips, drawing a compliment from a JumpTime attendant, who said, “Oh, that was pretty sweet.”

Though a sign instructed customers to land on their feet or seat, Griffith intentionally had been landing the flips on his back, “because you don’t want to land on your feet because you can bash your head against your knees,” he said in a deposition.

When Griffith attempted the triple flip, he did not rotate far enough and landed on his head and neck. He suffered a cervical dislocation and fracture, which required a fusion of two of his vertebrae, according to court documents.

In March 2015, Griffith sued JumpTime for personal injury, contending that because he was younger than 18, JumpTime had a duty to supervise him.

“He wouldn’t have been doing the wrong flips if they hadn’t let him in in the first place,” his mother, Amy Griffith, told the Idaho Statesman. “He was underage. They had no signed consent. They neglected their own rules.”

JumpTime, 1375 E. Fairview Ave., responded that several signs posted near the foam pits instruct customers to land on their feet, not their heads, necks or bellies. Also, Griffith did not tell the attendant he was going to try a triple flip.

District Judge Deborah Bail in Boise granted JumpTime’s request for summary judgment, holding that Griffith failed to produce evidence of negligence and causation. Griffith appealed the decision to the Idaho Supreme Court.

“Plaintiff’s testimony does not support an inference that JumpTime was in any way responsible for his decision to try the triple front flip,” the Supreme Court said in its April 10 unanimous opinion.

Seth Griffith, now 20, has continuing neck pain and headaches but otherwise is doing well, his mother said: “He is walking, which is a miracle.”

Griffith’s attorney, Eric Clark, of Eagle, told the Statesman he plans to request a new hearing. JumpTime declined to comment.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell. Business Editor David Staats contributed.

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