Gender reveal parties are a popular social trend in which expectant parents reveal the gender of their baby in front of friends and families. Unfortunately, while this used to involve little more than pink or blue confetti or paper streamers, in recent years gender reveals have become more dangerous, leading to injuries and even death.
Such parties are fueled by social media and supported by a growing industry of gender reveal party companies. Despite the risks associated with explosives, gender reveal parties are a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away.
Why are these parties so popular? And who can be held liable for injuries sustained at a gender reveal party?
Social media hype has given rise to a dangerous trend.
I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. It just exploded into crazy after [the blog post]. Literally – guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby.
Karvunidis explained to NPR that her 2008 party was simple. It consisted of a cake with pink frosting in the middle. More than a decade later, gender reveal parties sometimes feature pyrotechnics and risky plane maneuvers. Social media has fueled an escalation in the riskiness of such celebrations, with some to-be parents not wanting to one-up the Joneses on social media.
To be clear, most gender reveal parties are safe and never go viral. But some people, a very small minority, take it far beyond pink frosting or blue confetti.
What may have been family-friendly parties a decade ago have turned into elaborate stunts with sometimes deadly consequences.
It is not hard to find instances of gender reveal mishaps. In late 2020 and early 2021, accidents involving gender reveal parties made front-page news several times:
- Police say partygoers detonated 80 lbs of Tannerite, a binary explosive sold by some gender reveal party companies, resulting in an explosion felt throughout the neighborhood.
- A pilot and co-pilot were killed after their plane, which was to emit a pink smoke for a family watching below, lost control and crashed into the Caribbean Sea.
- The 2020 El Dorado Fire in Southern California was sparked by a malfunctioning gender reveal pyrotechnic device. The fire burned over 20,000 acres, destroyed 10 structures and resulted in the death of a firefighter.
- An expectant father was killed and his brother injured after a homemade gender reveal pyrotechnic device exploded.
These four incidents all have something in common: obvious risk. Three of the four involved DIY pyrotechnics. The other, a plane crash, involved professional aerial maneuvers over open waters. All resulted in the destruction of property or the unfortunate loss of life.
Who is liable for injuries sustained at a gender reveal party in California?
When establishing injury liability for injuries sustained at a gender reveal party, a personal injury lawyer will review all the facts. In general, a negligent individual or a device manufacturer can be fully or partially liable. Every state has different laws. For this article, we will focus on California law.
In California, an individual may be liable for injuries if their negligence leads to the injuries. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. To establish negligence, a plaintiff must prove that:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- As a result of that breach, the plaintiff was injured
In California, a manufacturer may be liable for injuries if their product was defective and that defective product led to the injuries. In California, manufacturers can also be found strictly liable. To establish a manufacturer strictly liable, a plaintiff must generally prove that:
- They were harmed by the product
- The product contained a manufacturing defect, or
- The product was defectively designed, or
- The product did not include sufficient instructions or warnings
In California, a defendant can be found partially liable for a plaintiff’s injury if the plaintiff is found to have contributed to their injuries. As a result, a defendant found partially liable may only have to pay a percentage of the total estimated damages.
Gender reveal parties can be fun, but it’s important to put safety first.
Elaborate reveals are heightening the risk of injury at gender reveal parties. That’s not to say gender reveal parties are bad. They can be a great way to celebrate the joys of a new life with friends and family. However, if you want to throw a gender reveal party, do so with safety in mind. It should be a joyful celebration shared with friends and family, and not an opportunity to keep up with the Joneses. Always seek legal counsel if you have any questions about liability issues with gender reveal parties.