Marietta, GA— Jurors Wednesday handed down a $5 million verdict against a Georgia party rental company for the brain injury a teen suffered during a bubble soccer game. Reyes v. Georgia Game Truck LLC, 16-A-2186.
The Cobb County State Court jury deliberated for about two hours before finding Game Truck Georgia, LLC 93% responsible for a May 2016 bubble soccer collision that fractured Salvador Reyes’s skull. Jurors apportioned 7% of fault to Reyes, likely reducing the post-verdict award to $4.65 million.
Reyes, then an 18-year-old Campbell High School senior, was injured when he crashed into another student during the game, at a party hosted by the Smyrna, Georgia school. Game Truck was hired by the school for the event and oversaw the game, in which players wear inflatable “bubble suits" that extend above their heads and below their waists.
Reyes, a Campbell High soccer player at the time of the accident, contends the injury left him with brain damage that affected his memory, decision-making, and mood, among other issues. During Thursday’s closings, Reyes’s attorney, Fried Rogers Goldberg’s Brad Thomas, requested $15 million in damages.
In addition to a dispute over the extent of Reyes' injuries, the three-day trial focused largely on whether Game Truck had given him adequate safety instructions. Game Truck argued it instructed students on how to play the game safely, but Reyes had disregarded those warnings and charged a fellow student, leading to the injury.
During Wednesday’s closings, Game Truck’s attorney, Skedsvold & White’s Craig White, reminded jurors of video that he said showed Reyes run straight into another student at high speed. “Anybody in this world should know you shouldn’t run at somebody that fast, especially if you’re a soccer player that knows you’re not supposed to rush somebody,” White told jurors. “Bubble soccer, no bubble soccer, you shouldn’t be doing that. And he did it, anyway.”
But Reyes’s attorneys argued Game Truck never cautioned Reyes on safety protocol. During Wednesday’s closings, Thomas said Game Truck never provided written guidelines on the game, and he reminded jurors that witnesses, including the school’s soccer coach and a fellow student, testified Game Truck hadn’t provided safety warnings. “There had been multiple games where people were running into each other,” Thomas said. “It was almost encouraged to do that.”
After the verdict, Thomas told CVN he believed Reyes and his family’s testimony played a central role in the jury’s decision. "The key to this verdict was the Reyes family themselves, our client, his parents and sister were completely honest about everything-- even things that were not necessarily helpful,” Thomas said. “The credibility of their testimony carried the day.”
Thomas added that he believed the award the reflected the severity of Reyes’s injury. “Brain injury cases continue to be undervalued by insurance companies. Just because a brain-injured person is able to perform a lot of the functions of daily living, that does not mean that person enjoys near the same quality of life he or she had pre-injury,” Thomas said. “Juries understand that life is about living-not just functioning."
CVN has contacted Game Truck’s attorney, Craig White, and will update this article with his comments.
CVN recorded the trial and will publish gavel-to-gavel video as soon as possible after the verdict.
Email Arlin Crisco at email@example.com.
Salvador Reyes is represented by Fried Rogers Goldberg’s Brad Thomas and Michael Goldberg, and by Curtis Law’s William Curtis.
Game Truck Georgia LLC is represented by Skedsvold & White’s Craig White.