Turner v. Bounce Back, LLC (Personal Injury)

In Turner v. Bounce Back, LLC (2018AP352), the Court of Appeals District III affirmed that the manufacturer of an inflatable air bag was not liable for injuries sustained when Colin Turner jumped onto it.

Fifty-eight-year-old Turner was injured at a Chippewa Valley music festival when he jumped from a platform onto the airbag, attempting to do a flip and landing on his head. Turner’s blood alcohol content at the time was nearly 40 percent above the legal limit. Turner sued US Airbag, which designed, owned and operated the airbag; N-Flatables, which sewed the airbag; and Chippewa Valley Musical Festival, which was hosting the event.

At the circuit court trial, a jury found that US Airbag was negligent in that the airbag was defective and unreasonably dangerous, but its negligence was not causal. Instead, the jury found Turner’s negligence caused his injuries and accordingly awarded him zero damages. The jury decided N-Flatables was not a manufacturer of the airbag since it only sewed the design created by US Airbag; therefore, N-Flatables could not be held negligent. The jury also declined to find Chippewa Valley negligent.

Turner appealed the circuit court decision, arguing:

  • The jury’s verdict was perverse because it did not find US Airbag causally negligent, it did not rule N-Flatables a manufacturer of the airbag, and it did not award damages to Turner. The appeals court found there was credible evidence to support the jury’s decisions on each of these issues.
  • The circuit court gave improper jury instructions by not defining the term “manufacturer,” giving repetitious instructions regarding Turner’s contributory negligence, and improperly instructing on how/whether to award damages. The court rejected Turner’s arguments because he did not raise them timely and because the instructions were based on statute.
  • The circuit court should have ordered a default judgment or mistrial because of a discovery violation and other errors by the defendants. The appeals court said the circuit court properly dealt with these violations without the need to declare a mistrial.

Overall, the appeals court declined to award Turner a new trial and upheld the jury’s verdicts.