Knockerball Lawsuit – Missouri Man Awarded $45 million

Following is the article as posted on ABC 17 News Website, the article is followed by commentary:

Knockerball MidMO ordered to pay Boone Co. man nearly $45 million in lawsuit

July 14, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Cole County judge ruled in favor of a man Thursday who was paralyzed after reportedly getting injured at Knockerball MidMo.

Knockerball MidMo is located inside Capital Mall in Jefferson City.

ABC 17 News reported that Derek Hart, 25, filed the original lawsuit in January after he reportedly suffered a spinal injury that permanently paralyzed his arms and legs.

The judge ordered the business pay Hart more than $44.6 million in damages in the lawsuit. The large amount is for nearly $20 million in medical bills, a life care plan and other expenses.

ABC 17 News went to Capital Mall on Friday and found that it is still open for those who want to take their chances. But those who do may not fully realize the risks.

Multiple other media outlets across the country have reported on other people who have suffered brain injuries and other serious injuries from playing in the inflatable rubber balls.

ABC 17 News checked on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website and found no recalls or warnings on Knockerball or any similar brand.

ABC 17 News also contacted the Missouri Attorney General’s Office late Friday afternoon to see if any complaints have been filed against Knockerball MidMo. We were forwarded to the consumer protection unit and have not heard back yet.

The only warning ABC 17 News could find was through a link in small print at the bottom of the page on the parent company’s website.

ABC 17 News contacted Knockerball MidMo and its lawyer about the judgement. Both said they had no comment due to pending further litigation.

A separate lawsuit is pending against the parent company, Knockerball USA; the product supplier, Zoom Sports Products; and Capital Mall.

ABC 17 News also contacted Hart’s lawyer about the judgment and has not heard back.

Commentary:

First off, our thoughts and prayers go out to Derek Hart and his family.  No commentary can lessen the profound impact this has had on he and his family.

Battle Balls, and the greater bubble soccer community, is saddened to see such a tragic event in a sport which is supposed to be fun and safe.  No bubble soccer operator, or bubble soccer player, wakes up in the morning, ever expecting something like this to happen.

From operational experience, Battle Balls has run over 300+ events, over the past three years without major incident.  The greater bubble soccer community have also done significant rental business in their markets, and bubble soccer games have brought nothing but smiles to the players involved.

As a community, we see a bifurcation of both product and operators.  To protect customers, the operators  have to have safe bubble soccer equipment, but also have to facilitate safe game-play through the correct use of the equipment and moderating play.

Bubble Soccer, as sold by Knockerball and other organizations-including ours-have allowed the budding entrepreneur to “buy-in” at a relatively low cost and start businesses in their respective markets.  However, there has been little or no qualification on equipment, nor qualification on operators or operator experience to ensure player safety.

Years ago, I co-founded the U.S. Bubble Soccer Association (USBSA) to act as a focal point on peer-to-peer sharing on safety and operations.  USBSA was a free service to members; all of the operators saw the importance of sharing information on safety and building the community for the benefit of our collective customers.

The bubble soccer industry is evolving.  As a company, we have tried to be in front of the industry in terms of equipment safety and gameplay rules.  Following is a blog, written by Battle Balls in November 2015: Safety Blog  However, as an evolving industry, all operators must continue to come together to protect the customers, first and foremost, and to protect the greater growth and evolution of the sport of bubble soccer for the distant future.

Respectfully,

Randy Carlson, Founder, Battle Balls