A teenage boy’s parents are filing a products liability suit against Amazon after they allege that the company sold a samurai sword that was unreasonably dangerous. Sixteen-year-old Tristan Ballinger and his friend J.K. were taking turns throwing a plastic water bottle into the air while the other boy tried to chop the bottle in half with the sword. At some point when J.K. was swinging the sword, the steel blade dislodged from the handle, sending the blade flying about 20 feet through the air and effectively impaling Ballinger in the forehead. Ballinger suffered a serious traumatic brain injury and spent six weeks in a coma. His doctor stated that his recovery will be a lifelong process and that he will need extensive physical and speech therapy for many years.
The samurai sword was given to a Ballinger by his aunt, Mindy Ballinger, who, in turn, had obtained it from her supervisor as an award at a work-related employee banquet. Rich Timpone, Mindy Ballinger’s supervisor, purchased the sword, sold as the “Anime Reino de Rasos Charlotte Cuulhourne Sword,” from Amazon for $19.95 in 2012. The sword was made by Georgia-based Top Swords and was modeled after a sword wielded by a popular anime character. It had a blade length of 27 inches, a rose pattern case metal guard, and a purple nylon-wrapped handle. The sword came with no safety instructions or warnings, and the blade did not extend the full length of the grip but was held in place with rubber cement only seven centimeters into the handle.
The defendants in the suit are named as Amazon and unknown defendants who were acting as agents, employees, subsidiaries, and affiliates of Amazon. The basis of the Ballingers’s complaint is that they allege that Amazon should have known that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous to users. The complaint alleges that Amazon’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the injuries to Tristan Ballinger. The sword is no longer available for purchase on either Amazon or Top Sword’s websites.