Unsafe Product Causes Climber Accident

Don Corson represented Bradford Deluca, a young man who was injured while rock climbing at a camp that provided high school seniors a safe and fun graduation night experience.

The Camp provided as part of its facilities a climbing wall, and as part of its services, staff to operate the climbing wall. The Camp staff had responsibility for, and control over, how its paying guests were rigged up for each climb. A Camp staffer was responsible for properly securing each guest for each ascent, through means of a carabiner affixed by the staffer to a standard climbing harness.

On Bradford’s third climb, the Camp staffer failed to properly secure him. Bradford reached the top of the climbing route, touched the bell affixed to the top, and leaned back for the controlled descending rappel just has he had done twice earlier that evening. Because the Camp staffer had failed to properly secure him, there was a sudden fall instead of a controlled descent.

Unfortunately, the Camp had chosen for its fall protection the thin style of mats designed for the much lower loads of gymnastics, instead of the thicker safety crash pads routinely used in climbing gyms. Both of Bradford’s wrists snapped. One wrist was so severely broken that it required extensive surgery that involved the permanent installation of orthopedic hardware.

In settlement negotiations, Bradford pressed to have the Camp install safer climbing equipment, including climbing crash pads, to protect young people in the future. Afterwards, Bradford donated a portion of his settlement to purchasing new climbing crash pads for the Camp.