Wet Weather, Slick Conditions Cited as Cause of Fall in Lawsuit
Dollywood, the aptly-named theme park owned by Dolly Parton and others, is the target of a recent lawsuit filed by a park visitor who sustained serious brain injuries in a fall from a ride. The lawsuit claims that Dollywood ownership acted negligently in not suspending the operation of the ride during the day’s rain and sleet storm.
The legal action, filed by Florida native Tedi A. Brown and her family, stems from a headfirst fall from the “Waltzing Swinger” ride in December 2013. The Waltzing Swinger is described as a revolving ride with individual seats ascending 25-feet into the air. During operation, the riders are tilted outward from the center of the ride. According to the lawsuit and witness statements, the ride’s swinging chairs lacked adequate locking mechanisms to restrain riders. “Anyone could lift the lap bar and become unrestrained,” the lawsuit said.01
Serious Injuries Alleged to Have Occurred
According to the Brown’s lawsuit, Tedi A. Brown suffered traumatic brain injuries in the fall. She also sustained a broken jaw, head and spine trauma and torn ligaments in the incident.
The Brown’s claim that Tedi requires ongoing medical treatment for conditions resulting from the brain injury, and that her life will forever be impacted by the trauma.
The lawsuit seeks $475,000 in damages for compensation for medical care and court costs.
Examining the Strength of the Case
As with any premises liability case, the owner of the Dollywood property holds the responsibility to protect visitors from harm. In this case, the park ownership and ride operator may have failed to meet that responsibility by not shutting down the ride during the inclement weather. The park may also hold liability due to their failure to provide adequate locking mechanisms on the ride’s chairs.
There may be more to the story, however, as the Brown family admits that Tedi Brown lifted the seat’s lap bar before the ride had safely come to a stop – the chair was estimated to be 10 feet above the ground at the time she lifted the non-locking bar.
The Brown’s do claim, however, that the ride operator failed to warn them against lifting the lap bar before the ride was safely on the ground.
In this case, both parties may hold some liability for the accident, although much of the responsibility for the accident is likely to fall upon the shoulders of the park ownership group.
In any event, as things unfold, it will be interesting to see how each party’s legal team approaches the case, and how a judge or jury will view the actions or inactions of each party.
If you have been involved in a serious accident due to the negligence of another party, contact the Baltimore accident attorneys at Mallon & McCool, LLC toll free at (800) 918-8872 or online. We offer free consultations and are available 24-hours a day.