Articles Posted in Amusement Park Accidents

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The family of Lena Dickerson is suing Disneyland, claiming the toddler was attacked by a dog in the park’s petting zoo on October 3, 2006 according to a report on Fox News. The child was bit several times on the face leaving her permanently scarred.

Court documents allege that a Disneyland employee brought her 6-year-old German Shepherd – Labrador Retriever mix dog to the park. The dog was placed on a box in the Big Thunder petting zoo. A park employee invited children to pet the animal, while holding its leash. Lena had petted the dog and was just about to leave when the dog attacked her.

Apparently, the shelter from which the dog had been adopted had called the dog “not very social” and even stated that the animal had a history of being aggressive. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the family’s medical costs and emotional trauma as well as punitive damages. Disney officials have not commented yet on this lawsuit.

In California dog attack cases, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for the damage, which that dog causes by biting someone, “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” (California Civil Code section 3342.) If the plaintiffs can prove that Disneyland was an owner of the dog, then they would have established liability for the compensatory damages that may be recoverable in their action. This doesn’t seem likely if the Dickerson family is alleging that “…a Disneyland employee brought her…dog to the park”.

Corporations become responsible for the acts of employees if it has knowingly ratified or accepted the benefit of the employee’s actions, like bring a dog into the petting zoo. The alleged use of the dog in the petting zoo and in parades might be consistent with Disneyland acting as if it is the owner of the dog.

Where, as here, the property is a commercial property open to the public which is invited onto the property, the owner is under a duty to frequently inspect their property and is charged with the knowledge of dangerous conditions it would have gained from those inspections. The plaintiffs might prevail if they can establish that Disneyland knew or should have known the dog was in the petting zoo and may be a danger to Disneyland patrons.
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An amusement park ride at the Calaveras County Fair called the Yo-Yo injured 23 people, three of them seriously when its swings collapsed, according to a news article in the Modesto Bee. The large swing-style ride that lifts the swing seats into the air on long chains and spins in circles broke apart injuring a number of children on the ride. 20 children suffered from welts and bruises from road rashes and getting hit by the ride’s equipment and the remaining three children with the most serious injuries were airlifted to area hospitals.

While the ride owner and operator – Midway of Fun, an Oroville-based company, did not talk to the media, officials from the local police department and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) who investigated the incident told the San Francisco Chronicle that the center hub of the ride, from which its arms extend, stopped rotating or worked intermittently.

Amusement parks are required to have constant inspections of their rides and attractions, as are carnival operators. When carnival ride accidents occur, the injuries are usually quite significant because of the number of people involved and the size and weight of the ride equipment. These rides have the ability crush, pin and eject riders, causing catastrophic injuries. In 2004 alone there were 2,500 amusement ride related injuries reported in the United States, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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Southern California is the land of amusement parks. There are probably more water parks – public and private – here than in most parts of this country given our year-round good weather and constant flow of tourism. But how many of us think about liability insurance before we send our children to these places or even when we take them to visit a private water park?

This week, a Missouri state lawmaker is proposing new legislation requiring private water parks to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, according to an article in the Insurance Journal. This after a 6-year-old boy from Joplin drowned last summer in one of the water parks, which was under the radar of state regulation. Ethan Cory’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Swimmin’ Hole, the water park, and the Boys and Girls Club of Joplin, that was supervising the children during their field trip to the park.
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A 13-year-old girl whose legs were severed above the ankles as she rode on the Superman Tower of Power thrill ride at the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, is in stable condition, but her left foot is just too severely damaged to repair, according to an article posted on MSNBC‘s Web site. However, doctors were able to reattach her right foot.

Kaitlyn Lasitter’s feet were lopped off by a broken cable in the ride, investigators with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture said. The investigation into the June 21 incident is ongoing. The state has also been trying to find out what caused the cable to break in the ride. Investigators are reportedly getting statements from eyewitnesses, reviewing statements and sorting through physical evidence and photographs of the scene.

Officials say the ride was most recently inspected on April 5 and inspectors found it was operating normally. The same ride also reportedly passed inspections over the last four years. The ride apparently lifts thrill seekers 177 feet straight up and then drops them nearly the same distance, with speeds reaching up to 54 miles per hour. As a safety precaution, Six Flags officials say they have shut down similar rides in their other parks so they can carry out inspections to ensure their safety.
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