Injury Risk Not Lost on Knott’s Plaintiff Who Now Suffers from Vision Problems
It was last year that Kristine Laborte, then age six, was a participant on the Timber Mountain Log Ride when she hit her head against the seatback in front, breaking a bone above her right eye. She was accompanied on the ride by her father, James, who held his daughter on his lap. The incident happened when the ride stopped suddenly at the bottom of the flume, causing both James and Kristine to slide forward. The injury, according to the family’s Amusement Park lawsuit, happened on July 27, 2014.
The plaintiffs assert the injury to their daughter could have been avoided if there were safety measures built into the ride, such as more adequate feet or leg braces installed in the interior of the log-shaped cars to prevent occupants from unexpectedly sliding forward. The Labortes also claim that better monitoring of the water levels at the bottom of the drop could have also prevented the injury to the little girl.
There appears to be some merit to the plaintiff’s claims, given prior compliance issues inherent with Knott’s. According to the Orange County Register (5/13/15), a similar incident in February of 2001 resulted in an order by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) to add braces to the logs/cars. Three months later, in May of that year, Knott’s reportedly advised Cal-OSHA that the additions had been duly made, and Knott’s had complied with the order.
Eleven years later, in 2012, Cal-OSHA was back to Knott’s again, this time with an order to enhance monitoring of the ride’s water levels. A subsequent report from Cal-OSHA noted that between May 2013 and January of this year, the water levels on the ride were not properly monitored.
It was during this period that the Laborte Amusement Park Accident occurred.
The summer is high time for amusement and theme parks. With children off school and families on summer holiday, amusement parks are a favorite pastime. Sadly, summer is also the time of year when spikes in Theme Park Accidents and even Amusement Park Deaths occur. Defendants in various lawsuits have been found, variously, to have dropped the ball when it comes to proper and ongoing maintenance, and/or supervision of the facilities.
The Amusement Park Lawsuit notes no fewer than nine previous incidents at the park, from 2000 through 2014 from which children sustained injuries, according to the Los Angeles Times (5/11/15). Had there been sufficient water levels at the bottom of the ride to cushion the stop of the log-shaped car, the impact might have been entirely mitigated or less severe. As it was, the lawsuit claims, there was insufficient water to cushion the car’s arrival at the bottom, resulting in an abrupt stop that threw the little girl’s head into the back of the seat in front, breaking the orbital bone above her eye. She lost consciousness and has suffered from vision problems since.
The Laborte lawsuit was filed in May in Orange County Superior Court. The plaintiffs are asking for punitive damages together with compensation for medical bills.