By JEFF HORSEMAN
An Orange County family reached a $20 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit stemming from injuries their son suffered in a fall from playground equipment at a Temecula Burger King.
The settlement between Jacob Buckett's family and a group of defendants was reached a couple months ago, according to the Bucketts' attorney, Christopher Aitken of Orange County.
While Aitken said the settlement barred him from identifying the defendants, court records show the family sued the Burger King franchise's owner in Rancho Santa Margarita, as well as companies responsible for making and distributing the playground equipment.
According to court documents, Jacob was 8 years old in 2005 when he fell from cross bars and hit his head on the tile floor. The boy suffered a traumatic brain injury that affected the left side of his body as well as his motor functions, reasoning and speech skills, Aitken said.
Aitken said another boy broke his arm while playing on the equipment three years before, so the restaurant knew the playground had safety problems. The playground's design was flawed and more padding should have been put on the place where Jacob fell, Aitken said.
The $20 million will pay for Jacob's lifetime health care needs, Aitken said, adding the Bucketts used to live in Temecula. Jacob is the son of Kevin and Julie Buckett.
Rene Faucher of Encino, attorney for the playground's distributor, Delta Marketing Inc., said his client paid $1 million through its insurance policy.
"This was a serious and tragic injury to quite a young boy," he said.
Aitken said the Bucketts brought the lawsuit to raise awareness of the importance of playground safety.
"One of their main goals is to make sure this doesn't happen to another child," he said.