Details recently emerged regarding a legal settlement between a Northvale, New Jersey, climbing facility, High Exposure, and a customer who was injured there more than four years ago.
According to an article by Charles Toutant on Law.com, the customer—Brittany Lilos—was ascending a 30-foot-tall “climbing obstacle” at the gym known as the “Leap of Faith” on November 7, 2016. The summit of this obstacle entailed a transition onto a walkable plank and, finally, a jump from the high plank to a “suspended punching bag.” (Customers always wore a harness throughout the sequence and eventually descended to the floor via auto belay.) According to Lilos’ lawyer and Toutant’s article, Lilos’ auto belay “detached from [the] safety harness” as Lilos was completing the sequence at the punching bag that particular November day, resulting in a ground fall. Lilos suffered multiple injuries, including fractures in her back, pelvis, and arms.
Following the incident, Lilos sued the facility, as well as a separate Massachusetts facility that designed the climbable obstacle. The eventual settlement, made public recently, awarded Lilos $1 million from High Exposure and $400,000 from the designer.
Announcements of the settlement did not indicate which brand of auto belay was involved in the accident. And no specification was made as to whether Lilos’ auto belay “detachment” was due to mechanical failure or user error. Also of note is that it does seem that Lilos signed a waiver at the facility prior to climbing; however, as CBJ’s legal analyst Jason Pill explored in a previous installment of Ask A Lawyer, facility liability waivers are not always lawsuit-proof and there are no guarantees that a gym’s waiver will hold up in all instances, depending on the circumstances surrounding the waiver and the accident.
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