Cedar Point sued in Dragster incident

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Two people want money for "pain and suffering" after the cable on Top Thrill Dragster separated and sent bits into riders last summer.

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Link: PointBuzz

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"So what if I spilled coffee, it's your fault I did."

No one said that it was McDonald's fault for her spilling the coffee, but they did not have to heat it to the point where it could cause 3rd degree burns. Also, someone said earlier that there were already many complaints about their flimsy cups...so was it the woman's fault that McD's was too cheap to buy cups that are quality?

Lord Gonchar's avatar

so was it the woman's fault that McD's was too cheap to buy cups that are quality?

Nope. But it was her fault that she didn't consider she was holding an extremely hot liquid in a relatively flimsy container and take the necessary actions to prevent an accident.

See, if I was handed a cup like that I'd immediately think (operative word here is think) man, this feels awfully hot and this cup doesn't seem real sturdy. I'd set the cup down to cool and perhaps even ask if there was another cup I could put it in or even if I could just have another cup to double up by putting the full one inside the empty one.

Of course that assumes the first time I noted a problem. If I had actually visited McD's before and received very hot coffee in a cup that didn't seem adequate, I'd probably stop somewhere else for coffee if I really thought it was a safety issue.

You take the necessary action to keep yourself safe, you don't walk mindless though life expecting others to look out for you.

McDonald's served hot coffee in a cup. Nothing more. The old lady dumped it on herself. The spilling caused the injury. Hot coffee itself does not inujure unless you put it on yourself.

If the bottom fell out of the cup, then you look to the cup. Was it meant to hold hot coffee? If so, the cup manufacturer is at fault. If not McDonald's is. But that didn't happen. She dropped it.

So did she drop it because of the quality? None of McDonald's other billions and billions of customers had an issue. The old lady f'd up and revealed a problem with the system (coffee served at too high a temp) - great, now they know and things change so next time some old lady can't hold onto a cup, no one has to hear about it...

...except the kid with the mop working the morning shift at McDonald's. :)

In the end, it's an "is the glass half full or half empty" arguement. Does the personal responsibility lie in McDonald's to be sure they serve potentially scalding coffee or does it lie in the customer to make sure they don't pour scalding liquid on themselves. I happen to take the side of being proactive and making sure stuff like this doesn't happen to me rather than blaming someone else when it does.

Don't walk though life blindly expecting others to look out for you, then complain when they don't.

How can you even BEGIN to compare this situation with the McDonalds coffee lady? These people did not do anything to cause their injury. They were sitting on a rollercoaster. They didn't open a molten cup of coffee in their car...they were just riding a coaster when, out of the blue, the cable snapped and shot out needle sharp wire fragments into the riders.

Even "freak accidents" have, in the end, someone who is ultimately culpable and liable for the injuries that were caused.

I can just imagine what all you CP fanboys will do and say if an accident like this happens at GAdv this summer...*** This post was edited by redman822 2/17/2005 11:23:43 PM ***

So how about when Michigan's Adventures Chaos fell over in 2001 was it? Did those individuals harmed sue or have a right to sue for damages???? Is that a reasonable risk to incur in a park visit? Does anyone know what happened with that?

Also, my opinion is that if it is found Cedar Point was in error for how they managed the ride that lead to that incident, the victims should be awarded the damages and also the court use that as an example, that it is unacceptable to put people in an unreasonable risk.

Why do people keep saying they did absolutely nothing wrong? As I've said earlier in this discussion, it is DOCUMENTED in the news reports and their own testimonies that they had their arms in the air, and as a result of the cable shards, their arms were bleeding. Had they been riding in a proper manner, their arms would not be bleeding as much (if at all). Regardless which side of the argument you choose to jump on, the poor, defenseless, pain-and-suffering kids aren't blameless. They contributed to their own injury by ignoring that loud, obnoxious "ARMS DOWN!" they always play at the launch repeatedly, not to mention the various signs to the same warnings.
The fact of the matter is, everyone must realize that if you're going to travel around 120 mph its common sense see there is always an "inherent danger". You have to throw caution to the fact that you're in a hunk of metal and wire thats moving faster than you hopefully were as you were driving to the park in your car. This machine is mainly controlled by computer, which I know everyone here knows they fail on a regular basis. Now you cant tell me that any reasonable thought processing human-being cant see and danger in that at all. I'm sry but i go in favor of CF/CP/Intamin for this one.

Yes I understand that they shouldnt have been hit with the metal shards. Yes the cable shouldnt have snapped. Yes the whole thing shouldnt have happened, but even if we forget everything else. What I dont get is where they get the basis for $50,000. Okay yes they got a few scratches here and maybe a bruise there. How do they figure there entitled to $50,000?!?!?! The way I figure it "Medical Expenses", if thats what you want to call it, cant top more than $2000 and even that seems extreme (unless they went to some high end surgeon){(sarcasm)}; and if they want to play the pain & suffering bit that shouldnt top $5,000 again at the risk of sounding extreme. How I see it give 'em 10g's and a few passes and send them skipping on there way home. Just get it over with. To much time is being spent on this.

But again, Dannerman, would you care to explain to me how having their arms up (which I still have not seen any of this documentation that you keep referring to) how did that cause the wires to go into their face and ears?

And June, perhaps they already tried to settle with CP before lawyers and the judicial system got involved. Once you have to have lawyers and spend court time and fees, they will only get a percentage of the total amount that is sued for.

And for all of you to say, "It's only a few needle-like wounds, get over it!" Why don't you come by Casa Rojo and et me stab you repeatedly with needles and then afterwards tell me what you think. But even then, it still wouldn't be comparable because a) you were expecting that to happen; b) you willingly came knowing that you would be injured; and c) you were not participating in what is considered a safe recreational activity.

But most telling of all, none of you CP fanboys have answered my comment yet about what you'd say if this were to happen at GAdv this summer. If it does, and I pray that it doesn't, I will be saying the same thing...will you? For most of you, I doubt it.

Yes, let's please get off of this bandwagon of the patrons were at fault for having their hands up. Having their hands up in no way contributed to the cable snapping. Why is it that the majority of people here hold their arms up are suddenly focused on how wrong it is to do that? And yes, CP is responsible. And, quit blowing hot air about "inherent danger". You're using it as a crutch.
Think about how many people every year make claims against regional transit system, car insurance companys and just about anything else that deals w/the public.
I see it this way: if my anti-lock brakes fail and i hit a VP or employee of CF or any other park, would i not get sued or have a claim on my insurance?
Sure, you could argue the point that maybe they didn't have the right of way when they walked in front of my car, but it doesn't change the fact that i'd get sued. you could also say that maybe they shouldn't have gotten up that morning...
You go to a park to have fun. you don't go there to get injured. I'm just glad no one lost their sight. That would be a multi-million claims for sure.
Lord Gonchar's avatar

But most telling of all, none of you CP fanboys have answered my comment yet about what you'd say if this were to happen at GAdv this summer. If it does, and I pray that it doesn't, I will be saying the same thing...will you? For most of you, I doubt it.

Can't speak for anyone else, but my stance on the park has nothing to do with my opinion. I find it a tad insulting that you imply that. I'm capable of forming my own opinion and in all honesty could really care less if CP got sued for the entire park and had to close the doors. It'd just mean I have to go somewhere else next summer. :)

$50,000 is chump change on the park's end, this won't effect them a bit monetarily.

I'd take the same stance regardless of which park this happened at.

1. The injuries were minimal, sufficient care was given.
2. There is a risk taken everytime you board a thrill ride.
3. The real debate is whether CP cared for the ride and had any indication this could happen. CP tends to have a phenominal safety record and I doubt they would have operated the ride if they felt it was unsafe. Essentially, I don't think there was negligence, nor intentions of injuring patrons.

Beyond peroxide and band aid costs, I don't think any park should be financially responsible in this type of situation.

I do understand that the world generally doesn't work this way, but it really should. The systems sucks and so does everyone who plays into it. :)

This coming from the guy who had his car crushed at a hotel on Disney property and got (and expected) nothing more than a rental car for 7 days and a 6 inch plush Mickey Mouse. Hell, we stayed at the park for 2 more days after it happened. :)

About 4 years ago, I would have said that the people who want to sue CP were crazy and out of there minds. I would have said, "what is this world coming to?"

But my views have changed over the years. The fact remains that no matter what you say, the incident should not have happened. When I go to an amusement park, I should expect to ride a ride and have nothing physically damage me while I ride a coaster or whatever. This should never happen. When something does happen though and it is not rider related, the park or manufacturer should always be at fault.

Yes, the injuries were minimal, but it should not have happened.

No, there should be no risk involved in riding a coaster if you are healthy and ride correctly (in the courts mind and in my mind). If I buy an oven, there should be no risk of it burning my house down if I use it properly and correctly. If an incident happens, then GE or whoever is at fault for a design flaw.

CP or Intamin may have never had any intention of this happening, but the fact is that it did. As much as I want to backup the amusement industry and CP, I can't. Ethics tells me that the park or Intamin was at fault. It is unfortunate that it happened, but this is the risk engineers and maintenance teams take in designing/maintaining anything. Especially 'prototypes.'

Jonathan Smith

Lord Gonchar's avatar

If I buy an oven, there should be no risk of it burning my house down if I use it properly and correctly. If an incident happens, then GE or whoever is at fault for a design flaw.

But the flip-side argument is that if you drive your car properly and there are no mechanical malfunctions, then you should expect nothing to happen. We know that isn't true. Sure the incidents for each individual who drives in that manner rarely happen, but there is always a chance.

I compared riding thrill rides more to driving a car than using an oven. (I guess it depends on how you use the over though ;) )

It is unfortunate that it happened, but this is the risk engineers and maintenance teams take in designing/maintaining anything. Especially 'prototypes.'

See, what this is turning into is the old "is the glass half empty or half full" debate.

I see it exactly the opposite and would say - It is unfortunate that it happened, but this is the risk riders take in riding anything. Especially 'prototypes.'

I still fail to see why individual responsibilty doesn't exist. It's up to me to make choices and when one doesn't go as planned, who's to blame?

Well, someone else, of course! :)

This I must say has been a thought provoking thread. There's some good arguments here.

The only thing I have to say about the car example is that you have control of the car. I move the steering wheel and apply the brake. I decide on when to maintain the car. You don't have control over a coaster. I can't set when the ride launches or check out the launch drive train on my own. This is where the park or manufacturer has to take responsibility.

I still fail to see why individual responsibilty doesn't exist. It's up to me to make choices and when one doesn't go as planned, who's to blame?

When a mechanism doesn't operate the way it was originally designed to or if something unplanned in the design happens, the blame has to go to who designed it or maintained it. I'm sure Dragster was not designed to have a cable snap. If it was, a part of the design should have had something to help prevent the snapped cable from hitting its riders. I guess I see no other way around it. If you ask me, $50,000 isn't such a bad lump of cash for such an incident. It could have been a lot higher.

Again, just my view on things. I appreciate the discussion.

Jonathan Smith

I work in a government building. We have a ceiling grid with lights and tiles. That grid is not designed to fall down. But, if it did and bonked someone on the head hard enough to cause an injury, no matter how minor, you can be sure someone would sue.

In fact, as a City we get sued pretty often. If a sidewalk buckles due to a tree root popping it and someone trips over it, we will get sued. We have people routinely checking sidewalks but it can be something that happens overnight and with hundreds of miles of sidewalk things can happen.

Now sure, there is personal responsibility. I should watch where I'm walking. But, you can be sure the City will get sued when that trip and fall happens.

In the examples I gave it is probably fair to say we can forsee sidewalk trips because they happen. We probably could not forsee the tile falling from the ceiling. Either way, we will be held liable to some degree.

The question will come down to how badly these guys were "injured" and what compensation, if any, they should get. There is no doubt in my mind that Cedar Point and Intamin have some culpability in this. I just don't know to what extent and that is what a jury is for...if it ever makes it that far.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I understand entirely. I know that's how it is, but it's a shame really. Your ceiling tile example is perfect. Buildings are inspected and maintained. I'd also chalk a tile falling as something that just happens.

I'll give you that the owner of the property should cover all injury related expenses. By all means CP should have covered any treatment these people may have needed. I'll even go as far as to say they should cover any additional monies lost due to inability to work, etc. That's what the system was created for.

Going back to my car story...

In theory, the hotel at Disney should've paid me the value of my car so I could replace it. I didn't even want that, that's what I have insurance for (I guess you could say that's what they have insurance for too) - I just needed to get home and find a new car. Our insurance covered the whole thing, they simply filed a report and forgot about it. We got a new car and had a great story to tell.

These people got very minor injuries. If CP paid for any treatment these people needed (peroxide and band-aids :) ), apologized, offered some little token (like the line passes or something), and looked into changing things so this can't happen again - then everybody got what they deserved. What little problem there was is over.

Now if the same thing happens again, then CP is clearly being negligent to an existing problem. I can even accept that and do believe it.

This just reeks of an attempt to cash in on an unfortunate incident.

The arms in the air has a big part to play. The reason that these kids had such cuts and feelings of "bee stings" on their arms was because they were in the air. If their arms were in the proper riding position, that would have been greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

As for documentation that they were riding improperly? How about This for starters? It also provides a link to the specific news article, however I couldn't get the body of the article to show up. A quote from the discussion thread, however:

sros208 said:
Quote from the article "“We all had our arms up and Joel said, ‘Tim, what's wrong with your arms?’ and he had blood dripping, he had cuts all over his arms,” said rider Whitney James. "

Don't get me wrong - I believe that CP should pay for medical expenses. Logic would dictate that would scarcely be more than a couple thousand at most.

Edit: 4am grammar :-P*** This post was edited by dannerman 2/19/2005 4:00:49 AM ***

No doubt about it, these people did nothing wrong and did nothing that would of made this happen. Is the pain and suffering worth 50,000? No. Is that what CP's insurance deductiable is? I would guess yes. Why? Because they know they will settle. Unless of course, CP is self insured.

As for the woman who burned herself with the coffee? She's a moron. I believe she placed the cup between her legs to hold it. Super hot or not, I don't place coffee there, period. Tim Hortons better watch their step. There coffee is at lava temp.

*** This post was edited by 2/21/2005 11:41:45 AM ***

1. The major reason why the McDonald's lady spilled the coffee in the first place is that she was driving and had placed the cup between her thighs. I guess next we'll have a rash of people suing because they were served cold coffee which gave them an upset stomach or constipated them or something.

2. Apparently pain and suffering is only caused by those deemed to have sufficient funds to compensate the alleged victims. How come you never hear of anyone suing a homeless person for pain and suffering?

3. Everyone who says that no amount of money could make things right after such an incident manages to quickly determine the amount that does.

4. All you posters who seem to think all these lawsuits are justified, please send me your names, addresses, your last three tax returns, and a detailed itinerary of your planned whereabouts for this year. I'm thinking my 401K could use a bit of a boost. I'll be seeing you.

No one will probably visit this thread anymore, but in case you do, RGB, great post ;)
1) Coffee served at 180 degrees that caused third degree burns (and noted in internal McDonalds memos that it was unsafe) is not equal to an upset stomach. Also, a) she was not the driver of the vehicle - her grandson was in the drivers' seat; and b) the car was not in motion at the time of the incident. Here are two sites that have the FACTS about the case, not just urban legend accounts of what happened. Site 1. Site 2.

2) How many homeless have ownership of restaurants and amusement parks?

3) It's usually lawyers who decide the $$ amount to sue for, not the client. Again, I think if the park hadn't blown them off completely (sorry, an exit pass doesn't cut it) this could have been avoided without it even getting to the press, let alone into the legal system.

4) Well, seeing that I do not operate any business that promotes itself on its' safety, you'd have no implied safety if you were to arrive on my property. Therefore, you'd have no grounds on which to sue me. And based on that, I respectfully decline to provide you with that information.*** This post was edited by redman822 2/22/2005 10:18:42 AM ***

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