Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Bounce house lawsuit filed
FORT LAUDERDALE — A child who was inside a bounce house that took flight from Fort Lauderdale beach and fell an estimated 20 feet to the sand last Memorial Day has sued the city and vendor for damages.
A tornado with winds of 65 to 85 miles per hour lifted the bounce house with three children inside into the sky from a concrete basketball court at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
Beachgoers can be heard yelling on a video that recorded the inflatable structure’s trip.
The children were treated at a hospital for cuts and scrapes. In addition, Antonio Dent’s arm was broken and Shadaja Bryant’s wrist was fractured, their attorneys said.
Shamoya Ferguson, then 6, hit her head and spent the night at Broward Health Medical Center for observation.
Shamoya had a lump on her forehead when she was discharged from the hospital and told reporters, “I was thinking that I was about to die.”
Shamoya and her mother, Tameka Liscombeof Fort Lauderdale, on Friday sued for damages from the city and bounce house vendor All Star Events of Miami Lakes.
The suit alleges All Star Events was negligent in the way it assembled and secured the bounce house, failed to monitor weather or warn users of any risks; didn’t train its personnel for emergencies or supervise the kids, among other claims.
It also argues that the city had a duty to provide a safe environment for guests at the holiday event and faulted placing the bounce house on concrete basketball courts at 1100 Seabreeze Blvd., where weather conditions could change.
And it alleges the city failed to test the bounce house for operation in windy conditions and claims it didn’t inspect the attraction or supervise the vendor’s personnel during operation of the house and was negligent for allowing Shamoya to remain inside while wind speeds changed.
The day after the incident, Shamoya’s father, Omar Ferguson, said: “It’s just an accident. Things happen.”
“The family was thankful that she was alive, and no one knew the circumstances surrounding what happened,” said Michael McMullen, who with law partner Bradford Cohen filed the lawsuit in Broward County circuit court.
“Her parents say Shamoya has issues concentrating in school, and is emotionally and mentally changed because of the head injury,” McMullen said.
Chaz Adams, public affairs manager for Fort Lauderdale, said in an email Friday that the city had not been served with the lawsuit and so would not comment. Attorneys for all three children have been negotiating with Gray Robinson, the law firm that represents All Star Events.
“We have been monitoring this claim for almost a year now, and it is unfortunate that we have not been able to resolve the matter without litigation,” Michael Sastre of Gray Robinson said in an email.
He called the water spout that “in a matter of moments” became a tornado when it hit land “a freak occurrence, an act of God.”
He also described the bounce house as being “very large and well-anchored.”
While the storm ripped down streetlights, a cement support for a basketball hoop and tree branches, according to a Sun Sentinel report, Sastre said beach blankets and umbrellas nearby were undisturbed.
The National Weather Service in Miami found high pressure to the north resulted in scattered showers over the ocean that moved onto shore. The tornado cut a 10-foot-wide swath and traveled 100 yards.
“Unfortunately, the tornado had to pass over something, and in this case it was the larger of the two inflatables on the beach that day,” Sastre said. “Needless to say, we are very grateful that there were no serious injuries sustained in the incident.”