PALOS PARK, Ill. - A lawsuit targeting one of the hottest places for family fun in the Chicago area was filed Monday.
The indoor skydiving experience iFLY lets participants feel like they are flying in midair. But a southwest suburban man claims it left him paralyzed.
Sixty-three-year-old David Schilling of Palos Park cannot walk, work or feed himself. He says he was injured during what was supposed to be a fun gathering with friends at iFLY in Rosemont in January 2021.
Before the accident, Schilling was an avid runner and sports fan. His injury was captured in a video we can’t legally show.
"It's very clear from the video that David was out of control and distressed, the iFLY instructor fails to intervene and he unfortunately hits his head at a rapid 45-degree angle," said Schilling’s attorney, Jack J. Casciato.
On its website, iFLY bills itself as "fun for everyone." In the question and answer section of the site, it says children as young as three years old can participate in indoor skydiving.
Schilling had participated in the activity four times before his accident, signing a waiver each time.
"We argued that the waiver was inapplicable given that the waiver calls it inherently dangerous, but iFLY markets it as very safe," said Casciato.
Schilling is suing for negligence, willful and wanton conduct, and fraudulent misrepresentation. His attorney says other tragic accidents have happened at iFLY locations.
"They've been sued on numerous occasions, in recent years. Unfortunately, this is the second time that a participant has been rendered a quadriplegic," said Casciato.
In contradiction to Schilling's lawsuit, a company spokesman claims no iFLY trainer was tending to Schilling at the time of the accident and that he was participating at a private event.
"In iFLY’s 20 plus years of operation, over 15 million customers have safely flown with iFLY across all locations, and the company will continue to make the safety of all of its customers its highest priority. iFLY has great empathy for Mr. Schilling and his family. At the time, Mr. Schilling was a very experienced, licensed skydiver with the United States Parachute Association with over 80 jumps who was receiving instruction in the iFLY wind tunnel from another experienced skydiver from Skydive Chicago at their private event for experienced skydivers."
Schilling's attorney, however, says there was an iFLY instructor "standing idle" when the injury occurred.
The case is expected to go to jury trial in Cook County in October 2023.