Negligence is defined in a court of law as failing to exercise a reasonable amount of care for your own or someone else’s safety. In many cases of negligence that our accident injury attorneys in Newport Beach see, the defendant is willing to risk others’ safety for whatever reason, whether it be for financial gain or for fun.

A key factor that makes so many personal injury lawsuits so tragic is how the defendant is often aware of the danger associated with their actions, but they choose to proceed anyway, resulting in injury or even death to the plaintiff.

That’s exactly what our case study is about: someone choosing to forgo risk in the name of fun and notoriety. The Game was a popular non-stop, 2-day scavenger hunt that was filled with puzzles and races in the San Francisco Bay and Seattle areas. After the Disney movie “Midnight Madness” was released in the 80s, the Game surged in popularity, and each year, the challenges became more and more outrageous.

The 2002 round of the Game, titled Shelby Logan’s Run, ordered players to scuba dive down to an underwater puzzle, sing karaoke with a drag queen, remove a clue from the entrails of a mouse without hurting it, and visit an abandoned mine shaft in Nevada. The game was meant to be an incredible and exhilarating road trip, but things took a turn for the worst in Nevada.

The instructions stated that players enter abandoned mine shaft 1306, saying “1306 is clearly marked. Enter ONLY 1306. Do NOT enter others.” Teams arrived in the middle of the night, unable to see in the dark. One player, Bob Lord, walked his team past Mine 1296, which was marked No! No! No! in red spray paint.

While many would see this as a sign not to enter, the word “no” was actually a clue in a past riddle, so Lord insisted that his team enter. Guided by Lord, the unsuspecting players entered the mine, where Lord quickly fell into a deep hole.

The man fell directly on his neck, crushing several vertebrae and leaving him a quadriplegic. His life was changed forever, as he was also left partially blind and could barely move a single pinkie.

His wife, Jacque Lord, was empathetic to the Game organizers at first, as they never meant for anyone to be harmed. However, she soon paid a visit to the mine shaft to get an understanding of why her husband had been in there in the first place. There, she met a mine-safety inspector, who revealed that he had warned the organizers against using the mines in the game multiple times, even calling it “the stupidest idea” right to their faces.

At that point, the Lord family decided to hire a catastrophic injury lawyer in Newport Beach to sue the organizers for putting thrill over safety and not mentioning the mine in the liability waivers all participants had to sign.

The lawsuit also revealed that another mine expert consulted by the organizers during the planning process also advised against the use of the mine. The expert, while saying 1306 was safe, also told the organizers they were “nuts” for sending participants anywhere near mines. “People die in these things all the time,” he repeated his warning over and over.

All five organizers of the Game eventually settled for paying the Lord family $10.6 million, paid by their homeowner’s insurance policies. While Lord had bypassed the warning outside mine 1296, the organizers were found liable for his injuries due to lack of foresight and concern for participants’ safety.