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Ferris Wheel Lawsuit Alleges Fair Operators, Ride Manufacturers, Were Negligent

Serious injuries to two young girls, as well as an adult woman, who fell 35 feet from a Ferris wheel at a county fair have filed lawsuits against the fair, as well as the ride’s operators, owners and manufacturers.

The federal lawsuits, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Tennessee allege the named defendants – as well as unnamed defendants who performed maintenance on the ride – were negligent, causing them to suffer serious personal injuries. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages in an unspecified amount. Two sisters, ages 6 and 10, as well as another girl, not identified in the lawsuit, fell from the ride when the gondola  in which they were seated suddenly overturned. Another woman on the ride also fell when the same thing occurred in her gondola. The 10-year-old suffered a broken arm while the 6-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury. The 16-year-old, who is not a plaintiff, was not seriously injured. The unrelated woman, meanwhile, suffered a sprained left arm and shoulder.

The youngest girl, who was the most seriously injured, was hospitalized for extensive injuries, and continues to undergo physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy, and continues to have ongoing treatment from neurologists. The 10-year-old has suffered severe emotional distress, while the younger girl continues to struggle with short-term memory loss, nightmares and is hypersensitive to low-level risks, such as being trapped in an elevator.

According to The Greeneville Sun, the girls were on the ride when their gondola became stuck and began to tilt. Parents on the ground screamed for the operator to stop the ride. The lawsuit alleges the operator, apparently confused, did not stop the ride. The girls fell straight onto the ground.

The 6-year-old was unconscious for a full 10 minutes and also suffered a seizure. She was later placed in a medically-induced coma while due to swelling on her brain as well as respiratory failure.

The family is now seeking damages on the basis of negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, gross negligence, negligent entrustment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, strict liability, defective design, defective manufacturing, failure to warn, breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranties. The family is seeking punitive damages.

State regulators cleared the fair to continue operations, but did not allow permitting for continued rides on the Ferris wheel. The Consumer Product Safety Commission did not note any clear cause for the fair accident, but did find that the aluminum plates on the gondolas were worn. Plaintiffs allege certain equipment on the ride was never replaced, and that the ride operator had only been given four hours of training – only one hour of that specific to operation of the Ferris wheel. Log sheets don’t even show proof of that much training.

The manufacturer has made four other models of this same Ferris wheel since then, making a number of design changes specifically because the gondola gates in older models, like this one, were prone to making contact with the ride structure while it was in motion.

The same company in charge of operating the fair has reportedly been involved in previous litigation, including one case out of North Carolina wherein an operator faced felony charges for tampering with a ride’s safety mechanism to keep it moving. Soon thereafter, five people were injured, including one who suffered permanent brain and spinal cord injuries.

As our Orlando amusement park injury lawyers know, these kinds of incidents can be life-altering – and sometimes life-ending. Accountability is a top priority, along with just compensation. Our attorneys will fight for the rights of those injured by negligent amusement park owners, operators and ride manufacturers.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Families File Lawsuits In Ferris Wheel Incident, July 19, 2017, By Kristen Early, The Greeneville Sun

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Report: Florida Boating Accidents and Deaths on the Rise, July 12, 2017, Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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