EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Latest News

May 6, 2013

Toys R Us will appeal$20M award in slide death

ANDOVER (AP) — On a warm summer day in July 2006, Robin Aleo climbed to the top of a 6-foot inflatable pool slide and slid down head first. As she neared the bottom, the slide partially collapsed and Aleo slammed her head on the concrete pool deck, causing fatal injuries.

Five years later, a jury awarded Aleo’s family more than $20 million, finding that the slide sold by Toys R Us did not comply with federal safety standards for swimming pool slides.

Toys R Us will go before the highest court in Massachusetts today to ask that the award be overturned.

The national chain argues that the 1976 Consumer Product Safety Commission regulation cited by Aleo’s family does not apply to inflatable in-ground pool slides, but only to rigid pool slides. Toys R Us also says the trial judge allowed lawyers for Aleo’s family to inflame the jury by accusing Toys R Us of importing an “illegal” product when it had relied on a certification that the slide met all safety regulations.

Aleo, 29, of Louisville, Colo., was visiting relatives in Andover when she went down a “Banzai” pool slide. Her husband, Michael, and 15-month-old daughter were watching as her head hit the pool deck. She suffered a broken neck and died the next day at a Boston hospital.

A jury in Salem Superior Court awarded Aleo’s estate $20.6 million in 2011, including $2.5 million in anticipated lost income from Aleo’s career in advertising and marketing, $100,000 for pain and suffering before her death and $18 million in punitive damages. Toys R Us argues that the $18 million in punitive damages was “grossly excessive.”

Lawyers for Aleo’s husband say pool slides have been subject to a federal safety standard since 1976. The standard applies to all pool slides, no matter what they are made of, said Benjamin Zimmermann, a Boston attorney who represents Michael Aleo.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Photos of the Week