I-Team: Massive settlement reached in family’s lawsuit against Cowabunga Bay water park


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A massive settlement for $49 million was reached in a lawsuit against Cowabunga Bay water park.

The suit was filed by the family of Leland Gardner, who suffered a permanent brain injury and will require lifelong care after his seemingly lifeless body was pulled out of the park’s wave pool in 2015. He was 6-years-old at the time.

He now requires 24-hour care for dressing, grooming and moving, and he is fed through a tube.

In a settlement document obtained from court records, the two sides calculated that if Leland lived to be 64-years-old, up to the age of 81, his medical bills and expenses could climb to $59 million.

As the I-Team’s George Knapp previously reported, the lawsuit alleged negligence because Cowabunga Bay did not have enough lifeguards on duty. State law required 17 at the time, and Cowabunga Bay only had three.

The park’s general manager admitted in his deposition that the pool never met the legal standards for lifeguards.

In the settlement agreement, Cowabunga Bay says that if it went to a jury trial, the company would face financial ruin.

The Southern Nevada Health District also played a role in the tragedy. It failed to inspect the water park, then lowered the lifeguard requirement after the drowning incident. It fined Cowabunga Bay a mere $118.

There is a second lawsuit filed by the family of Daquon Bankston, a younger who died in the same wave pool a year after Leland Gardner. Negotiations are underway in that case.

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