Settlement in Burn Suit Over Hot Climbing Domes at Brooklyn Park

Updated, 5:03 p.m. | A family who said their young daughter was burned on an overheated steel climbing dome at Brooklyn Bridge Park will receive a $17,500 settlement.

The girl, Paula Spolar, who was 1 at the time of the injury, sustained second-degree burns on her hands, her family’s lawyer said. The nonprofit group that runs the park and the park’s designer are splitting the cost of the settlement, according to court papers.

The three silvery domes, made by a German firm that says it produces “extraordinary stylish play equipment,” drew reports from horrified parents within days of their installation at the Pier 1 play area in March 2010 that when the sun shone on the metal, it heated to skin-scalding temperatures.

At 12:30 p.m. on June 16, 2010, according to a notice of claim filed by the family, Paula was playing at the park’s playground when she “sustained severe burns as a result of the scorching hot stainless steel metal climbing domes existing in full attraction thereon.”

The next day, officials at the park, a sparkling $350 million project sprawled along 85 waterfront acres on the East River, fenced off the domes. A week later, the domes were removed. They were eventually replaced with a little red house and a fairy castle.

The Spolar family originally sued the city, then added the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which runs the park, and the park corporation in turn claimed that the park’s designer, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, had liability, said the family’s lawyer, Gary R. Weinberg. The park corporation’s and Van Valkenburgh’s insurance companies covered the settlement, the city Law Department said. The settlement was reported Thursday in The New York Post.

The suit initially sought $1 million and claimed that the burns were permanent, but time has since healed them, Mr. Weinberg said, and the Spolar family simply wanted to resolve the matter quickly.

“Let’s just hope this leads to safer playgrounds for our children,” he said.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 25, 2012

Because of incorrect information provided by the family’s lawyer, an earlier version of this post misstated which parties were paying the cost of the settlement. The park’s designer and the park’s operator are splitting the cost; the park’s operator is not paying the entire amount.

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