A Denver jury awarded $2 million to a woman who was injured at a Colorado Springs resort while participating in a mock sumo wrestling game with her coworkers.
Katherine Giles was attending her company’s retreat at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in September 2005 when the accident happened.
Mock sumo wrestling is sometimes used by companies as a team building exercise. It involves participants wearing enormous padded or inflatable suits and helmets.
At the event, held for Giles and other employees of a division of Ernst and Young, there was an open bar and people were drinking.
Giles, of New York City, says she sustained permanent brain damage. She was wearing a helmet but was pushed off the mat. She hit her head, was knocked unconscious and was bleeding from the ear.
“The rim of this helmet hit her. She fell backward and the helmet impacted on the concrete covered by carpet,” Giles’ attorney John Purvis said. “It had slipped up on her head so the hard plastic rim impacted the back of her head. She fractured her skull.”
Jurors in the federal trial blamed the manufacturer of the sumo suits, the company that owned the equipment and put on the event (Gravity Play Entertainment in Colorado Springs) and, to a lesser extent, the resort.
Purvis claims the helmet was one-size-fits-all and was too large for Giles, who he described as a small woman.
“If it slips it’s like any situation. It’s dangerous,” says Purvis. “If it fits well it probably would not be dangerous but if it does not it is a disaster waiting to happen.”
The Inflatable Store no longer offers mock sumo wrestling as one of its products.
Two other companies named in the lawsuit settled out of court with Giles before the trial.
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