City tells parents to pay $132,000 after 5-year-old son knocks over sculpture

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WSVN) — A city in Kansas says two parents are on the hook to pay $132,000 for a statue that their son toppled in a community center.

Sarah Goodman said her family attended a wedding last month at the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City.

During the reception, Goodman’s 5-year-old son hugged a glass mosaic torso sculpture on a display stand, causing it to topple on top of him. Surveillance video shows the boy struggling for a bit before the artwork fell to the ground.

“We heard a bunch of commotion and I thought, ‘Whose yelling at my son?’” Goodman told KSHB. “This glass mosaic torso is laying on the ground and someone is following me around demanding my personal information.”

Nearly a month later, the family received a letter from Travelers Insurance, stating the family is responsible for the cost of the damage.

“This loss occurred when your son was in a closed area of the property and toppled a glass sculpture. Under common law in Kansas, you are responsible for the supervision of a minor child and your failure to monitor them during this loss could be considered negligent,” the letter read. “The cost of the sculpture damaged is estimated at $132,000.”

Goodman said the accident could have happened to any family, noting the art display was unprotected and not properly secured.

“My children are well supervised but all people get distracted,” she said. “It’s in the main walkway. Not a separate room. No plexiglass. Not protected. Not held down. There was no border around it. There wasn’t even a sign around it that said, ‘Do not touch.’”

A spokesman for the city defended the display, saying the sculpture was not meant to be touched.

“There’s a societal responsibility that you may not interact with it if it’s not designed for interaction,” spokesperson Sean Reilly said. “It was a piece that was loaned to us that we are responsible for. That’s public money. We are responsible to protect the public investment.”

Reilly said the city filed an insurance claim for the piece; the insurance company then contacted the family.

Goodman says her family does not have the means to pay for the damage, and is speaking with their homeowner’s insurance about the matter.

“$132,000 is completely astronomical,” she said. “We’ll see what the insurance company says and if they’re going to take it to lawyers. We don’t know.”

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