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Damning Sydney newspaper report slams safety record of Flip Out trampoline centres
Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph has today published a damning report condemning the safety record of commercial trampoline operator Flip Out, citing how the business “is headed for a rough landing as customers with devastating injuries launch massive lawsuits.”
The report Paralysis and broken necks: Pitfalls of $38m Flip Out trampoline empire as civil suits loom explains how the Flip Out franchise “is under attack with mounting complaints from customers in Australia and the United Kingdom of serious injuries ranging from broken bones and severe facial lacerations to fractured spines and paralysis.”
The article goes on to refer to a number of injuries incurred by Flip Out patrons.
Founded in 2012 by Western Sydney ‘truckie’ Brent Grundy, the Flip Out franchise has enjoyed massive growth to now operate more than 75 centres in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe.
The Daily Telegraph reports how Grundy has accrued “an estimated worth of $38 million in just five years by aggressively franchising his bouncing business model of trampolines and foam pits for aerial stunts all over the world.”
On safety there have been concerns over Flip Out’s standards, with the business never having been a member of the Australian Trampoline Parks Association (ATPA), a division of the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA), despite frequent attempts by the industry body to recruit Flip Out since the industry body was created in 2013.
While ATPA members have the Code of Practice in place, which was ratified at the AALARA conference in 2014 and which outlines the safest practices around the design, construction, operation and maintenance of indoor trampoline parks, Australasian Leisure Management is not aware that Flip Out arenas abide by this.
An ATPA spokesperson advised “we continue to promote safe standards across our industry and recommend customers look out for the ATPA sticker when visiting trampoline parks - it ensures that the park has been annually audited to meet the safest standards, as outlined in the Code of Practice.”
ATPA also has a seat on the Standards Australia committee (SF-051) writing the Standard for our industry, which is chaired by Associate Professor David Eager, with the Standard set to be published in the first half of this year.
The Daily Telegraph cites the case of Wollongong bricklayer Frankie James Kuzba, aged 22, apparently the latest person to sue Flip Out after he dived into a foam pit, breaking his neck in four places at Flip Out, Warrawong on 17th April 2015, causing permanent paralysis and leaving him unable to work.
His action follows that of father-of-two Craig Middleton, who settled out of court after he broke his neck and was paralysed doing a forward flip off a trampoline into a foam pit at his daughter’s birthday party at the now closed Charmhaven centre on the NSW Central Coast.
In response, Flip Out vigorously defended its safety record, advising The Daily Telegraph in a statement that as the “world’s largest recreational trampoline park”, Flip Out has “thousands of guests” visit to its facilities every day.
The statement added “we treat safety very seriously and make every endeavour to ensure our guests have a safe and enjoyable time at all of our facilities.
“We do note that given the very nature of the activity it is important for all guests to appreciate that it is an activity in which injury can occur and accordingly we have clear guidelines for guests to follow when visiting our facilities.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Kuzba, who is being represented by law firm Slater and Gordon, believes Flip Out has a serious case to answer.
He recounted that while he signed a waiver, as all customers do when they enter Flip Out facilities, inside the centre he then sought advice from an attendant before diving into the foam pit.
He said he jumped “real high” and plunged into the foam, hitting the concrete below.
Kuzba recalled “I went straight through and hit my head … 96kg straight onto my head.
“I heard my neck crunch and my ears were ringing real loud - at first I thought I had died. I tried to yell out to my friends but I could barely talk.”
Kuzba spent 280 days recovering in hospital and can no longer move any part of his body below his shoulders.
He added “my life is nothing now, it’s gone, I can’t do nothing.”
In a statement Flip Out said it could not comment on individual cases for legal reasons. The statement went on to say that “we strive to ensure all guests enjoy their time at Flip Out and handle claims and complaints within strict guidelines required by law”.
Kuzba’s case will return to court next month.
The Daily Telegraph also reported that earlier this month Grundy sold Flip Out Australia to former Canberra Raiders league player Steven Stone for an undisclosed sum.
Click here to read the original article in Sydney's The Daily Telegraph.
Images: A FlipOut facility in Timaru, New Zealand (top) and FlipOut founder Brent Grundy at a franchise in Dubai (below).
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