Article Courtesy of The Courtroom
By David Siegel
February 20, 2018
Las Vegas - A Nevada state court jury slapped a
homeowners association with a $20 million verdict on Thursday, including
$10 million in punitive damages, in a lawsuit filed by a teenager who
suffered a traumatic brain injury when a swing set’s metal bar broke and
landed on his head.
The jury found the Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs Homeowners
Association responsible for injuries sustained by Carl Thompson in 2013.
Thompson sued in 2014 claiming that the accident caused his persistent
headaches, memory loss, movement problems with his right arm and a
substantially increased risk of developing dementia. He accused the HOA
of failing to adequately inspect and maintain their playground.
The verdict far surpasses the HOA’s highest pretrial settlement offer of
$125,000, according to Thompson’s attorney Sean Claggett of the Claggett
& Sykes Law Firm. Claggett told Courtroom View Network that offer
increased to $2 million, the maximum policy limit under coverage
provided by Lamplight’s insurer, Community Association Underwriters,
after the jury heard closing arguments.
Lamplight argued that Thompson’s injuries were not as severe as he
described, and that a property management company was responsible for
maintenance of the neighborhood’s playground, not the homeowners
association. An attorney for Lamplight did not respond to a request for
The full trial was webcast live and recorded gavel-to-gavel by CVN.
Claggett told CVN the verdict will make homeowners associations take
greater steps to make sure their playgrounds are safe.
“None of the HOA’s are getting maintenance and inspection of their
playgrounds, and it’s putting lots of children at risk,” he said. “These
jurors weren’t going to tolerate HOAs in the community ignoring the
safety of residents and guests.”
During the trial, Claggett and his co-counsel Al Lasso of Lasso Injury
law argued that Lamplight should have known their playground posed a
safety risk after two previous swing sets required repair and
replacement over a span of less than ten years.
They told jurors that despite this record, the HOA opted out of a
$150/month safety and inspection plan offered by the swing set’s
installer. Thompson initially also sued the swing set’s manufacturer and
their distributor, but those claims were settled prior to the start of
Claggett said the verdict is significant because it is based entirely on
pain and suffering, with no life care plan presented to the jury and no
claims for lost future earning capacity.
“I’ve never put on a trial like this,” he said, noting that a $10
million compensatory award is usually tied to more quantitative factors
that jurors can “add up.”
Claggett said he expects the verdict will force homeowners associations
to become more proactive about the safety of their playgrounds.
“Every single HOA in this town needs to go get a maintenance and
inspection plan for its equipment,” he said.
The weeklong trial took place before Judge Joe Hardy in Clark County
District Court. Lamplight was represented by Kevin Brown of Brown Bonn &