Playground Injury Leads To $23M Suit

Playgrounds at the Tucson Unified School are in rough shape, and now they’re in the news. Back in 2013, a child fell from a slide at an elementary school playground and sustained a brain injury after hitting his head on a concrete slab. According to the child’s mother, the shock-absorbing wood chips in the fall zone were pushed aside by constant play, leaving the concrete exposed.

In late 2014, a local news company in Tucson checked up on closed school playgrounds and found they were still easily accessible by the general public. Of concern was the fact that the safety surfaces were not being maintained. Surface fill underneath slides at these closed playgrounds had been removed and sent to playgrounds at schools that were still open.

That’s a move that makes sense when school districts and parks departments are facing tight budgets – but if the wood chip safety surfacing has been removed, the playgrounds should not be easily accessible.

In January 2015, 9 On Your Side concluded a three-month investigation into the playgrounds at closed schools, revealing that they were still accessible to the public and there were no signs indicating children should not play there. The playgrounds had a variety of safety hazards, including exposed concrete in fall zones.

According to an attorney that 9 On Your Side interviewed, the school district would likely still be liable for playground injuries even if they had properly secured the closed playgrounds from being accessed by the public, due to a tort law called attractive nuisance.

More information about the safety audit for the Tucson Unified School District can be found at the Arizona Daily Star.