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Court awards boy 60,000 yuan after fall leads to broken leg

AN 11-year-old boy was awarded 60,000 yuan (US$8,773) in compensation from a property management company yesterday after he suffered a broken leg from climbing into a ventilation shaft and falling 4 meters.

The Hongkou District People's Court also ruled that the boy surnamed Lan was equally to blame because he should have realized the danger of climbing into the shaft.

On September 5, 2007, Lan and three friends were playing at a residential community club platform about 4 meters above the ground. A guard scolded the children for playing in a dangerous area, the court heard.

The children, afraid of further scolding from the security guard, tried to find a place to hide. They saw an unlocked iron gate nearby and entered. Inside was a ventilation pipe and the iron wire at the entrance was broken. They climbed in even though it was dark, the court heard.

Lan, who was in front, suddenly screamed and disappeared. His shouts for help came from below. The other three children climbed back quickly and called security guards for help.

"I was frightened in the dark pipe and wanted to return very much. But I could still hear the scolding of the security guard, so I had to crawl on," Lan told the court. "I suddenly fell down at a turn and felt a sharp pain."

Security guards called police and an ambulance immediately. Rescuers pulled Lan out with a rope.

Police found the diameter of the pipe was 1 meter and extended parallel to the platform for 8 meters before a 4-meter drop.

Lan's parents sued the property management firm for more than 130,000 yuan.

They blamed the company for the unlocked iron gate and the broken iron wire, which enabled the children to enter the shaft. Lan's parents also told the court there were no warning signs.

The defendant shifted the responsibility to the parents, accusing them of not supervising the boy.

The court ruled the firm take half the blame because it failed to remind people of the possible danger in the shaft and didn't eliminate hidden dangers, like the broken wire and the unlocked iron gate.


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