Fair and ride owner sued for Miami-Dade Gravitron accident

Posted Thursday, April 8, 2004 8:10 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The family of a 16-year old girl who was critically injured when she was hurled off an amusement park ride has filed a negligence lawsuit against the owners and operators of the Miami-Dade County Fair and the Gravitron ride. Last Friday, as the cylindrical Gravitron was spinning with about 45 people inside, a bolt broke and an outer panel flew off, throwing seven off the ride, state ride inspection officials said. The suit names Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, Inc., Conklin Shows, Inc. and ITRS, Inc., as defendants.

Read more from The Sun-Sentinel.

Thursday, April 8, 2004 8:11 AM
I haven't seen one of these rides up close in several years, but I'm a little disturbed that all the reports talk about one bolt breaking. Why would one broken bolt cause this kind of failure? Shouldn't there be several?
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Thursday, April 8, 2004 8:47 AM
I agree Jeff, but maybe the one bolt broke and the force was so great that the other 3 couldn't hold it. I don't know Carnival/fair rides scare the poop out of me cause they are put up and taken down so much.
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Thursday, April 8, 2004 8:57 AM
In theory, the carnival rides should be safer than the big parks. They are "inspected" by the state at each stop. But the reality obviously isn't the case. This is a big story down here in Florida.

Here is a case where a lawsuit is justified and the gal and her family should win big.

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Thursday, April 8, 2004 10:03 AM
Jeff, maybe now we know the reason for all of those left-over bolts that didn't fit after the ride was assembled.

Seriously though, I'll go on anything at a stationary park, but I agree with you, Crashmando, the traveling rides scare me. It's true that they are inspected, but these rides can be complicated. I guess I don't know what is entailed in ride inspections, but how is it possible to go over every bolt in every traveling ride in every traveling fair?

Does anyone know any details of how these inspections are done?

Rob(tm)

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Thursday, April 8, 2004 10:20 AM
I just rode a Starship 3000 at the local "Spring Fair" and it was making a lot of creaking noises. I don't know about in Florida, but the "inspections" prior to operation are done with haste because the state of California doesn't have enough employees trained and able to inspect the rides within a reasonable amount of time, so a lot gets by.
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Thursday, April 8, 2004 12:28 PM
From what I can tell, the inspections in Maryland are pretty good. I always look closely at traveling rides before I ride. Some impress me as very well maintained and safe. Others scare me. The same can be said for fixed parks.

With regards to this particular incident. The way most engineering design is done, the failure of a single bolt would not result in catastrophic failure. However, there are cases where single point failure design can't be avoided. I don't know how the attachment of these panels is designed.

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Thursday, April 8, 2004 1:29 PM
Didn't read the actual story but it was not seven people hurled off the ride. Four of the seven hurt were just standing in line and got smacked with the debris. They were treated on the scene and released. The three more serious injuries were on the ride though I believe only the girl with the gravest of injuries was actually thrown off the ride.
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Thursday, April 8, 2004 2:01 PM
From the original news posting - http://www.coasterbuzz.com/2004-96-177913.htm

"Three of the passengers were hurled out through the opening left by the panel"

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Thursday, April 8, 2004 3:30 PM
I haven't seen one of these rides up close in several years, but I'm a little disturbed that all the reports talk about one bolt breaking. Why would one broken bolt cause this kind of failure? Shouldn't there be several?

My thoughts exactly, if it's really just one bolt holding that much of the ride together than it sounds like a poorly engineered ride to begin with. In all likelihood the ride wasn't maintained properly, otherwise the manufacturer would be implicated for a design defect.

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Friday, April 9, 2004 11:43 AM
6 days seems like an awfully short time in which to file a law suit after an accident. Usually there is some evaluation of the evidence and a determination of who to sue in a case like this. Without that there are many open questions such as was there any fault to be assigned to the ride manufacturer or the bolt supplier and should they be sued. Any somments from lawyers out there?
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Friday, April 9, 2004 1:46 PM
Here is a pic of a Gravitron either being set up or being taken down. On the left side of the pic you can see where it looks like the bolt / bolts? may go to connect the pannels together at the center of the pannel. It may be interesting to work at a fair ripping the rides down to see how things work.

The weird thing is at our local fair it's one of the most popular rides. Me, I'll take the Zipper any day at least I don't have to hear horrible music on that.

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Saturday, April 10, 2004 12:30 PM
We've had quite the discussion about it over at MCW, and details of what exactly happened are on this page.
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Saturday, April 10, 2004 3:57 PM
I don't know the specifics, but they probably filed suit so quickly after the accident so that they could get a judge to preserve the evidence. If they waited too long, by the time they went to look, the ride would be "missing." Now the judge has ordered that the evidence be protected. Before this turns into an attack on lawsuits, don't forget that this poor girl is going to have millions of dollars in medical fees and expenses associated with this accident.
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