More families come forward to say their kids hurt on slide

More families come forward to say their kids hurt on slide »Play Video
Three women are suing Playdate PDX after they say they were injured on this slide.

PORTLAND, Ore. – More families are stepping up, saying their kids also got hurt on a slide at Playdate PDX in Northwest Portland.

A lawsuit is expected to be filed soon.

Gregory Kafoury, a lawyer in downtown Portland, says he's representing as many as nine people all injured on the slide.

KATU started investigating the slide back in the spring. Playdate PDX is owned by doctors. 

Parents filing the lawsuit say it's dangerous because it's so easy to go airborne.

One boy says he broke his elbow on the slide.

"I went down the slide three times. The last one, where I broke my arm, I didn't have any arms at all on the railing," said Blake Schnacker, 9, whose mother, Amber, is suing Playdate PDX. "I wanted to go really fast, because I was having so much fun. I didn't realize I would break my arm."

Representatives at Playdate PDX declined to do an interview Monday.

But Dr. Robert Birkhahn, one of the owners of Playdate PDX, said he was traveling on the East Coast and sent KATU a long email, explaining he's tried testing the slide to re-create some of these situations where people got hurt. He says you’ll only go airborne if you lift your legs up.

"I don't know that simply because you can figure out a way to hurt yourself on the slide makes in 'dangerous'...in my line of work its people that really make life dangerous."

The lawyers say they'll file a lawsuit soon, maybe Monday night.


 Dr. Birkhahn's email sent to KATU.

Sorry about the delay, I've been travelling over the holidays and wasn't able to look at the news stories or complaint until yesterday.  I posted a response on our website last night, but it's really just a dry bunch of statistics.  I have been curious about how these women generated enough speed to "catch air" since the kids make me use the slide nearly every day and I've never been able to launch myself.  So I've been trying some slide use 101 on my employees and here's what we've found.  Clothes and weight are big factors, (and all adults are much bigger than a 5 year old).  Nylon and spandex goes really fast, but still not fast enough to launch someone.  As it turns out, your arms and legs work very much like brakes on a car, the front ones seem to take up 80% of the braking and the rear (arms) account for about 20% of your braking ability.  If you sit on the slide with your legs in full contact with the slide, your descent is remarkably slow regardless of what you wear.  You can modify your speed simply by raising them up from the surface of the slide (as one might do if they were scared and falling backward).  If you also raise your arms off the slide (as children do on purpose and adults do if they’re holding a child) then you can achieve maximal speed.  Going down with only your bottom in contact with the slide is what my older children do to get maximum speed when trying to get away from me when playing tag...but for an adult doing so can generate enough speed to "catch air"...and the real downside is on the last bump you come down on your bottom.

Sorry for the neuroses, research is what I do in my day job.  I don’t know that simply because you can figure out a way to hurt yourself on the slide makes in "dangerous"...in my line of work its people that really make life dangerous.  In either event, its a fun experiment to try and kind of like learning all over again how to use a slide...something children already know and adults seem to forget.  If an adult goes down the slide with their legs in contact with the slide its boring (regardless of how they use their hands).  If that same adult goes down and just raises their legs off the surface even half an inch and keeps their arms off the slide they go much faster.  You're welcome to come experiment any time you like if you have any staff members who want to play.  Our manager Forest can make himself fly down it...but he's a little crazy.