The family of Leland Gardner recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with Henderson Water Park LLC for $49 million.
Water parks are supposed to be places of fun and adventure for families looking for a break from everyday life. Amid all the water slides and swimming pools, one of the last things that parents may think about at a water park is something bad happening to one of their children. After all, oftentimes there are lifeguards present to help keep swimmers safe. Unfortunately, one family whose child visited the Cowabunga Bay water park found out just how fast accidents can happen and have since agreed to settle a lawsuit it filed against the Nevada water park for $49 million.
What happened, though? Why was the lawsuit filed? For starters, the suit was filed in response to an incident that occurred in May 2015. According to the suit, Leland Gardner was visiting the water park with a friend and the friend’s father when he became “submerged for a lengthy period of time.” As a result of the incident, the child, who was six-years-old at the time of the incident, was hospitalized for weeks due to neurological damage. For instance, Leland “suffered a hypoxic and anoxic brain injury, which disrupts the flow of oxygen, and requires 24-hour care for grooming, dressing, bathing, sitting, standing, moving and feeding through a tube in his abdomen,” according to the settlement. Over the years, the medical treatments have cost the family more than $900,000 in medical bills. That cost is only expected to increase over time. In fact, medical experts believe Leland could live “anywhere from 64 to 81 years old and incur medical costs between $40 million and $59 million.”
The suit itself was filed in Clark County District Court and argued that Cowabunga Bay failed to staff the waterpark with enough lifeguards the day of the incident. Additionally, since the suit was filed, investigations into the incident “uncovered facts that showed liability against Henderson Water Park LLC for negligence,” according to the settlement agreement.
When commenting on the suit shortly after it was filed, Donald Campbell, the attorney representing the Gardner’s, said when the suit was filed, a “lifeguard plan the park submitted in 2014 called for six lifeguards at Cowabunga Bay’s Surf-A-Rama Wave Pool.” However, “the Southern Nevada Health District said the park needed at least 17 there.” From there, the water park “submitted a revised proposal that met the health district’s expectations, but inspection reports showed the park failed to maintain adequate lifeguard coverage at the wave pool on multiple occasions,” according to Campbell.
Before the recent settlement agreement, Henderson Water Park LLC has attempted to settle the suit out of court for $5 million after expressing concerns that it would be “financially ruined” if the case ever proceeded to trial and a jury ruled in favor of the family.