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Sword company denies claims in lawsuit

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By Amanda Manning

 An online company that sells replica swords has denied allegations in a $60 million dollar lawsuit filed by a La Grange family whose son was critically injured by one of its swords.  

According to the lawsuit, Tristan Ballinger and two of his friends took turns tossing a plastic water bottle in the air while the other attempted to hit it with the sword. 

The steel blade of the sword broke off of the handle, traveled as far as 20 feet and struck Ballinger in the forehead, according to the suit. The boy was diagnosed with a penetrating traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for six weeks. 

The sword company in question also sells helmets, chest guards and shields, among other items. 

In its response, Top Swords denies the majority of the allegations made by the Ballingers in the federal lawsuit that was filed in Georgia, where its company is headquartered. 

The lawsuit filed by the Ballingers alleges the sword was “patently defective and unreasonably dangerous because the sword’s design and manufacture provided no effective means of preventing disengagement of the blade from the sword handle.”

In its response, Top Sword admits that it sold the “Anime Reino De Raso Charlotte Cuulhourne Sword” online but denies other allegations specifically about the sword. The sword in question in no longer available on Top Sword’s website.

The federal lawsuit also states other charges against the sword company, including negligence, breach of warranties, failure to conform, duty to warn and gross negligence.

“Top Swords specifically denies that it designed, manufactured, tested, inspected, packaged or labeled the Anime Sword,” the response states.

The company also added that it had no role in the distribution, marketing, or sale of the product. 

“Top Swords cannot be liable…the warnings or instructions for use related to the product at issues, including any failure to warn, because Top Swords did not design or manufacture the product or develop any warnings or instructions for use relating to the product,” according to the court documents.

Top Swords also argues that they were not at fault. “These alleged injuries and damages may have been caused directly and proximately by plaintiff’s failure to exercise due care to avoid injury,” the lawsuit states.

During its investigation, Oldham County Police found “that the blade was not secured by bolts or rivets through the handle and the blade but by an adhesive akin to rubber cement,” according to court documents.

Both the Ballingers and Top Swords have requested a jury trial.

One of the Ballinger’s attorneys, Mat Slechter of Louisville, said that there has been one settlement in the case so far. “We settled a claim through the homeowners insurance of the young man who was actually holding the sword at the time,” Slechter said. 

Discovery is still pending in the case that could reveal who else should be added to the lawsuit, according to Slechter. 

“We are exploring the possibility of adding additional defendants,” Slechter said. “There may have been other entities who were in the chain of custody or distribution of the sword.”

Tristan Ballinger continues to recover at home.

 

A story detailing Ballinger’s progression and where the community’s fundraising efforts have gone will be featured in the Oldham Era soon.