Appeals court says doctor can sue Cedar Fair over broken wrist suffered on Great America bumper cars

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

In a ruling Friday, a divided San Jose-based state appeals court found that a local doctor could sue the owners of Great America for a broken wrist suffered while riding a bumper car with her son in 2005. The decision overturned a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge's decision to toss the lawsuit because of the conclusion the park did not have a legal duty to guarantee against such an injury.

Read more from The Mercury News.

mlnem4s's avatar

Only in America.

I believe one day we are going to see the repurcussions of these ridiculous lawsuits (if not already) when businesses disappear because the legal system has become the new route to "millionaire status." Even worse, it has created a culture of "anyone else is to blame but myself."

At the same time, I can go on YouTube and pull up a video at any European fair, carnival, etc. and they don't even have fencing around rides, safety zones for ride operators, etc. Guests stand there right at the edge while an attraction is in motion or you can find ride operators riding an attraction platform while it is in motion! (Which, for the record, I use to do myself on the Musik Express back in the day.) How is it that Europeans have more common sense than Americans, yet Americans can sit and blast them repeatedly for their "liberal culture?"

Jeff's avatar

But the thing is, what percentage of people in these suits are really getting any reward for it? As much as people slam the legal system, I've seen no proof that it's minting millionaires. Costing business a lot of money, sure, but I'd love to see where the millionaires are.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

CoasterDemon's avatar

Somehow our American culture is big on blaming other's, not looking at 'our part' in things.

People don't even engage each other or communicate at so many big parks - I feel like if it's not a tweet, something sarcastic, or a text, we don't know how to talk to each other. People used to be happy when you said "can I ride there!?" now you getta funny look. With blasting music and auto spiels at the Six Flags park, even the half-assed attempts of the ride ops to engage guests can't be heard.


Court didn't decide that the plaintiff wins his case only that the determination of whether the park was negligent should be decided by a jury. I haven't seen the case record to be able to say whether there is anything there that would preclude a judge from ruling that the park was not negligent as a matter of law.

That being said, we have lost much of the "assumption of the risk" concept. Living carries with it certain risks of getting hurt. But too many people seem to have the attitude that if I get hurt and I didn't do anything wrong, someone else should have to pay for it.

CoasterDemon's avatar

^Really! Go to the doc/hospital, get it fixed....

kpjb's avatar

She's a doctor... let her fix it herself!!11!!eleven.


When I was a kid, we never went to the doctor or hospital. We were just told to walk it off. Of course it was easier then because we walked a lot. Up hill to school. Both ways. In the snow. You young folks have it easy.

Jeff's avatar

And the Internets!

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Ridiculous. I hope they seat a jury with half a brain. I think this should fall into the "assumed risk" category. Our church carnival had a bumer car a couple of years ago and my son, though strapped in properly, hit his mouth on the steering wheel after being hit head on.

There was a lot of bleeding but my biggest beef was that the ride op...seeing I had a problem...didn't stop the ride. I drove to a corner of the attraction, climbed out and jumped a fence so I could attend to my boy. I certainly didn't consider filing suit against the carnival operator.

They need to install air bags!

bjames's avatar

All that the doctor deserves is the ticket price refunded and the insurance company reimbursed for the cost of the cast. It seems like every day I turn around and learn about a new petty lawsuit or ridiculous law. Now the entire amusement industry is threatened by this, which could ultimately result in a much worse ride experience because of increased safety restraints and could even precipitate the end of mechanical rides altogether because of their perceived danger. Maybe there should be some sort of contract attached to the ticket you purchase to preclude any more any case this decision could be just the first of a cascade that eventually break the back of the amusement industry. Parks will soon be as afraid of their guests as doctors are of their patients, if people are allowed to claim monetary settlements for such things, and the costs of insuring a park, much like the cost of malpractice insurance, will be prohibitively high.

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

LostKause's avatar

If any thing comes of this, and Bumper car rides are threatened with becoming a rare type ride, I'm sure technology is advanced enough to fix a problem like this. I can come up with three solutions to ending or managing the dangers of head-on collisions on bumper car rides from the top of my head. Just think what a group of professional ride designers could do.

And who knows, it may give parks reason to keep their wooden roller coasters from getting too bad. It could also be a way to entice parks to keep other rides in tip top shape also.

...Or maybe nothing will come of it. I'm sure that Cedar Fair can afford a decent Lawyer.

Perhaps the trouble is rational people's attempt to get out of jury duty.

The biggest problem here is that the experience is controlled explicitly by the guest. The park didn't make the guests hit head on (despite it being against the rules) but could still be liable for their actions. This could make guest-operated attractions like bumper cars or go karts much riskier for parks to operate.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

This man can't even drive a bumper car, I question his ability to find a decent lawyer..

JoshuaTBell said:
This man can't even drive a bumper car, I question his ability to find a decent lawyer..


The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

I have a legal question for those in the know. If she wins this lawsuit will she be required to reimburse her medical insurance or is that just with malpractice suits?

janfrederick's avatar

When I operated this ride, I do not remember signs warning against head-on collisions nor did we mention that in the spiel. This was a long time ago though.

That being said, we averaged ~10,000 riders a day with multiple head-on collisions per session and we never saw an injury like that in a couple of seasons. It must be pretty rare.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza

Krafty said:
I have a legal question for those in the know. If she wins this lawsuit will she be required to reimburse her medical insurance or is that just with malpractice suits?

I don't know for sure but it seems to me that if she is awarded anything with respect to medical costs, she would be required to reimburse her medical insurance carrier. Damage award would include medical costs, pain and suffering and possibly (though seems to me not likely) punitive damages. She shouldn't get the benefit of compensation for medical costs that she didn't pay out of her own pocket.

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