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The Amusement Park Lawsuit Can Run the Gamut

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Anaheim, CAAn Amusement Park Lawsuit recently filed in the state of Pennsylvania is proof that an injury does not have to be particularly horrific to qualify for legal action. Rather, if the patron has suffered pain and suffering of any kind, or an injury that proves debilitating, then an effort to seek financial compensation from the operator remains a reasonable pursuit.

Case in point is a woman from Palisades Park who sustained a knee injury at Sesame Place, a popular amusement park amongst children and young families located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. According to The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey 6/16/14), Hyobin Kim and her husband Ho Young Lee filed their action alleging the amusement park accident earlier this month in US District Court, Pennsylvania.

The complaint alleges that while visiting the theme park with their 18-month-old son in July 2012, Kim decided to take her infant son down a kiddie slide in an area of the park known as Splash Castle. Her son was too young to attempt the slide on his own, although Kim felt nonetheless that her son would enjoy the experience.

Thus Kim, in her amusement park lawsuit, holds that she herself went down the slide with her son in her arms. The slide, as the name of the themed area suggests, is a water slide with a mattress-like pad positioned at the bottom in order to cushion a patron’s entry into the water at the bottom.

According to the lawsuit, the cushion did what it was supposed to do. However, when Kim attempted to stand - with her infant son still in her arms - the plaintiff slipped and fell, striking her knee against a hard object used to secure the cushion into place. The fall and knee-strike produced a deep laceration to Kim’s knee, about four inches in length with tissue exposed.

The injury caused Kim severe pain and permanent scarring, as well as other long-term issues involving the functionality of her knee, which now affords her limited range of motion. Kim has also required hospitalization to treat her injury, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff has in the past been prevented and in the future will be prevented and precluded from attending to her normal duties, occupations and avocations; in addition, she has suffered and will in the future continue to suffer pain, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of sense of worth and well-being, the inability to engage in her normal activities and inability to pursue the normal and ordinary pleasures of life,” the lawsuit states.

The amusement park accident occurred on July 4, 2012.

The date is significant, because the 4th of July is the next big high day for activity at amusement parks after the Memorial Day Weekend. July 4th also marks the start of the summer season, with classes having finished for elementary and high school students. And while the entire summer remains busy for theme and amusement parks, the 4th of July weekend is when the tide really hits.

Kim’s amusement park injury, while serious, pales in comparison to other injuries suffered by patrons on rides that are becoming increasingly complex and more challenging to maintain. The latter observation is not surprising, given the competitive nature of the amusement park industry, where operators can attract patrons from a competing park with the addition of the latest, most thrilling amusement.

Many a patron has come away with injuries much more serious than a lacerated knee. Many a horrific theme park accident has seen patrons fall out of moving cars in a roller coaster accident, or even lose parts of their limbs when a complex ride malfunctions. People have lost their lives.

A headline that screams “Amusement Park Deaths” is a tragic and unwelcome intrusion into an otherwise exciting and enjoyable long holiday weekend. But it also serves to remind us about the reality of amusement and theme parks and, while rare, the potential for serious disaster.

The lawsuit is Hyobin Kim and Ho Young Lee v. Sesame Street and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Case No. 2:14-cv-03201-LFR, US District Court in Pennsylvania

Disney and disability don’t mix, new lawsuit contends

In a related issue, a theme park juggernaut has been hit with a 57-count lawsuit by guardians for individuals with autism. Plaintiffs in the complaint hold that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc. erred when the operator made changes to the park’s accessibility polices and protocols, which plaintiffs feel are in violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disney, until recently, maintained a policy that allowed disabled persons immediate access to rides, without the need to wait in sometimes long lines for the more popular attractions.

However, Disney, according to the complaint, withdrew that policy in October of last year in favor of a system that closely resembles a program also afforded completely abled patrons: appointment riding. In other words, a patron will make an appointment to board a ride at a certain time of day. When the patron returns to the ride at the appointed time, they are usually afforded the opportunity to board the ride more quickly, than had they waited in the usual, first-come, first-served lines.

Anyone familiar with the Disney attractions will know that there are often two lines and two entrances - the entrance for customary first-come, first-served patrons and another for patrons who have booked an appointment to board the attraction at a certain time.

There can be a wait, even for embarkation for an appointed time. Granted, the wait is usually much shorter. However, parents and guardians of autistic children hold that even a short wait for an individual on the autism spectrum can be devastating, given that autistic patients can experience severe emotional trauma due to wait time.

The new policy for disabled patrons, known as the Disability Assistance Seating (DAS) system, is both dangerous and discriminatory for persons on the autism spectrum, the lawsuit states.

“Either Disney designed the DAS with a goal or ‘benefit’ in mind of substantially reducing the number of autistic and cognitively impaired persons who visit the Disney Parks, or Disney recognized such ‘benefit’ promptly upon release of the DAS and has accepted its adverse impact upon plaintiffs,” the complaint contends.

Amusement park accident statistics don’t normally include problems that occur while waiting in line. The plaintiffs represent 16 children with autism. The lawsuit is A.L., et al, v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-02530, filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.


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Posted by

The problem here is not the amusement industry being unsafe. Amusement rides are machines. Machines break down. Yes, if there is a failure that causes serious injury or death then a victim should be entitled to compensation. However, too many people are just out to sue. So what if you were stuck on a ride that breaks down. The rides are designed to shut down when they sense there is a problem. The safety devices keep you in your seat until the ride restarts or you are removed from the ride. You don't need to sue because you suffered mental distress for being stuck. If that was the case, I guess everyone who has a car that breaks down on the side of the road deserves compensation because they have to wait for a tow truck. We are the only country in the world where suing is the thing to do. Again, rides break down. If you are that afraid or think you would suffer from sitting on a reside that shuts down, don't go to an amusement park.


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