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$10 Million Awarded in Segway Fall Resulting in Brain Damage

We represented a young man who was asked to volunteer to ride a  Segway Personal Transporter at a charity event and was not provided with  a helmet. He fell off the Segway Personal Transporter and hit his head,  resulting in the permanent loss of his sense of smell and a traumatic  brain injury.

The “Segway Challenge” was an obstacle course  with four legs. Each of four team members was asked to ride a Segway  Personal Transporter through one leg of the obstacle course. Different  handicaps were incorporated into each leg of the course. For instance,  in one leg the rider would wear “drunk goggles”, which simulate the  disorientation caused by being drunk. During the leg that our client  rode, the rules called for him to be blindfolded.

In its  owner’s manual and instructional video, Segway recommends that anyone  riding a Segway Personal Transporter always wear a helmet. On the day in  question, two Segway representatives who helped plan the event, and who  brought the Personal Transporters to the event, forgot to bring  helmets. When the Segway representatives instructed the volunteers on  how to ride the Personal Transporters, the representatives did not tell  the volunteers that Segway recommended they wear helmets. The Segway  representatives then allowed the volunteers to ride through the obstacle  course without helmets. Our client was almost finished with his leg of  the course when he fell backwards off the Segway Personal Transporter  and smashed the unprotected back of his head on the floor.

Our  client suffered a subdural hematoma and subarachnoid hemorrhage  (bleeding inside the skull), which resulted in encephalomalacia –  softening of the brain. These injuries caused mild traumatic brain  damage: trouble maintaining attention, problems with tasks requiring  mental flexibility, and difficulty processing complex information at a  normal rate.

The fall also caused our client to lose his sense  of smell, which he will never regain, and left him with a reduced sense  of taste.

At trial, we demonstrated that the Segway  representatives were not just negligent, but reckless, because even  though they realized the riders should not ride through the obstacle  course without helmets, they allowed the event to go forward. Through  the testimony of a biomechanical engineer, we showed that a helmet would  have prevented our client’s injuries. Since our client’s injuries are  not apparent to a casual observer, we hired a neuropsychologist, who  evaluated and measured his injuries. The neuropsychologist explained to  the jury our client’s cognitive deficits. A specialist in taste and  smell explained how our client had lost his sense of smell.

The  jury returned a verdict of $10 million, for our client’s non-economic  (quality of life) damages. No economic damages were claimed.

Connecticut Law Tribune link:
Ex-Student Awarded $10M After Fall From Segway *

* Please note that the CT Law Tribune article, dated December 26, 2011,  Vol. 37, No. 52 erroneously listed Mark Herceg, Ph.D. as the defense  expert when in fact he was the Neuropsychologist Expert Witness for the  plaintiff.

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