LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A federal judge has ruled that a Chinese company is liable for damages from a Samurai sword that left an Oldham County teenager with a traumatic brain injury.
Tristan Ballinger was critically injured in 2016 in his backyard when he and his two friends took turns tossing a plastic water bottle in the air while the others attempted to strike the bottle mid-air with the sword.
His parents, Nicole and Mike Ballinger, filed a federal lawsuit in 2017, suing the sword distributor for $60 million. In the lawsuit, they said the steel blade broke off the handle, flew as far as 20 feet and struck Tristan Ballinger, then 15-years-old. The blade lodged into his forehead, causing a severe brain injury and leaving him in a coma for approximately six weeks.
In late November, Judge Harold Murphy granted the Ballingers' default judgement against Ray International Trading Company, the sword manufacturer. The sword manufacturer never responded to the lawsuit or filed any legal documents in the case.
The default order against Ray International Trading Company means that the judge will determine how much to award the family instead of a jury. The Ballinger family is seeking $20 million for the injuries, damages and loss to Tristan Ballinger and $40 million for punitive damages. A court hearing has not been set yet.
Several companies were named in the lawsuit, including the retailer Top Swords, Edgework Imports and Pacific Solution Marketing.
Top Swords and Edgework Imports reached a confidential settlement with the family, according to court documents. Pacific Solution Marketing was dismissed from the suit on Jan. 10.
Oldham County Police found during its investigation the sword blade was glued into the handle, not attached by bolts or rivets.
Ballinger, who has defied the odds, graduated with straight As from Oldham County High School last year.
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