Automatic Gate Lacked Adequate Warnings

Synopsis

On January 3, 2000, Jane Doe took 4-year-old John Doe and her 13-year-old nephew, Jack Doe, to defendant White Company's facility in Hawthorne. She arrived at the facility at 9:00 am and she left John Doe with Jack Doe in her parked car. A White Company assistant manager greeted Jane Doe and Jane Doe said she was interested in renting a storage unit. Leaving the two boys in the car, the assistant manager and Jane Doe left the office to look at a couple of storage units. In the meantime, John Doe exited the car. At about the same time, a White Company customer pulled up to the gate, entered her identification number into the keypad and drove through the gate. She did not see the gate close behind her. Upon exiting her car, the customer saw John Doe with his neck caught in the gate. Jack Doe was screaming for help and was trying to pull John Doe from the gate. The customer punched her identification numbers into the key pad and the gate opened. John Doe fell into Jack Doe's arms. The customer immediately administered CPR. After a few moments, John Doe began gasping for air, and then started moaning and crying.

John Doe sustained brain injury, cognitive deficits, attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, deficits in perceptual functioning, and exacerbation of a pre-injury speech problem. Jane Doe contended that defendant Extra Space failed to post warnings concerning the hazard that this gate presented to children and that the gate was not equipped with a device to sense the presence of a child caught in the gate's path. White Company contended that the accident was due to inattentive parenting and irresponsible behavior. White Company further contended that John Doe's deficits were all pre-existing. The matter settled before trial.