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A slippery slope?

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Must all playground slides be straight and dull on pain of liability for "design defect," as Max Kennerly implies or can a manufacturer give parents the option to supervise children to play on a slide with some curves? Nick Farr defends. NB the rhetorical imprecision of Kennerly turning sixteen injuries into "odds are pretty good a kid is going to fall off and break their arm or knee when they land." Sixteen injuries may be too high to permit the product to be sold as is; I don't know what a reasonable baseline comparison is, or the size of the denominator. Certainly any playground equipment of height that isn't a barred cage permits a child to fall off and break an arm or a knee, and it certainly can't be the case that any risk of injury is too much risk, or that any product less safe than the most safe product is defective. If the ratio of injuries to slides used is much higher than average, I could certainly concede that a product is unreasonably unsafe. Kennerly's proposed solution, as well as that of the complaint in one lawsuit, however, is ridiculous: bigger warning labels. A warning label on a slide is just going to teach children to ignore warning labels; and any parents who don't understand the law of gravity aren't going to be educated by the label on a slide. The only conceivable label that could make a difference is "Don't Use." Either the Evos Slalom Glider is too unsafe to be sold at all (a possibility I don't rule out), or it isn't; let's not abuse the failure-to-warn doctrine.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


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