Family of Plunge victim files suit against Knott's for negligence

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The family of a woman who fell to her death from Perilous Plunge has filed a suit against Knott's Berry Farm. The suit alleges Cedar Fair, the park's parent company, and Intamin, the ride's manufacturer "knew the dangers" involving the ride. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is considering that the woman's size may have been a factor. Firefighters speculated the woman may have weighed as much as 330 pounds.

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Cripe! How did she even fit in there! WHat's really sad is tat Knott's didn't set a weight limit because they likely would have drawn a discrimination suit. What can ya do?

*** This post was edited by Buzz Head on 10/11/2001. ***

I'm surprised it took them this long to file.. Should be an interesting case.

"Mantis looks too intense for me.."
MF total - 471 laps
VertiGo Launches - 79
June 11th, 2001 - Gemini 100

Jeff's avatar
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if this was settled out of court.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -
"From the global village... in the age of communication!"
Watch the grass grow!

I would like to know what other accidents happend on PP and if they where weight related(story says 3 people have been injured this year on it).
Army rangers lead the way
My question is still this... if a person is "too big" to safely ride, why can they fit into the ride? I never rode PP... however look at B&M inverts. If you can fit into a regular seat or the "big boy" seats, isn't it natural to assume that you can "safely" ride the ride?

Design of the ride should have prevented someone "too large" from riding. If the restraints are secured CORRECTLY (the responsibilty of the ride crew to check), then it is a natural assumption that the ride is SAFE to ride. (The opposite is true for short people... "You must be this tall" to ride so that you do not slip out of the restraints that may be tight enough on you to secure you).

I happen to agree with the suit. The woman could have been questioning "Will I fit"... when she got there and was seated and secured (presumably safely) and checked and "approved" by the ride crew, it was a natural assumption that all would be well.

Not saying that they will win the suit. As stated above, it is a good bet that CF will settle this one before it reaches a court room, especially if they happen to agree that they should have "[known] the dangers" that may have been involved with a design flaw.
"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

I would really be surprised if CF admits in court that they knew the ride was dangerous.  That would be headline news.  They will probably give the family a large settlement to avoid a public hearing.
Intamin... We'll pay the suit, you give us a new ride.
A practical example...

On a wooden coaster I once operated it was fairly common to have an "oversized" person try to get on the ride.  Many people are insistent that they will ride. 

The person would get into the seat and try to pull down the lap bar.  When it would not lock, the person would ask the co-rider to help pull the lap bar down while the person lifted the...excess skin, until that skin moved enough to allow the lap bar down.  Thus the lab bar was quite literally buried under the belly.

In the 10 or so years I was a ride operator I was never once trained to tell an individual with a weight problem that they could not ride.  If the bar locked, that was good enough.  Maybe that needs to be reexamined.

Is it realistic that the bar could have been locked when leaving the station and yet still opened up later?  Not for me to say. 

Where did you work at? Six Flags policy is that if the rider is not able to secure their own restraint/seatbelt by themselves they are not able to ride.  No one is allowed to pushdown.  That is what is supposed to happen...although I see quite a bit of pushing on restraints.
And I disagree with that "no pushdown" rule. I have seen a few times where a person has brought down a restraint (of various kinds) and did not have it lock correctly. There are some restraints out there that may require a little extra "push" to get them to "lock", a push that is best given from someone standing upright and pushing down, and not seated and "Pulling" down. It has nothing to do with weight or size (some of the people I noted, including myself, fit quite comfortably, but yet it was hard to get the restraint to "lock").

This no "push down" rule must be used in combination with good common sense on the part of the ride op. A little extra "push" to secure is one thing... having a few people put all their weight on a restraint in order to force it closed on a rider who is obviously too large to ride is quite another.

How is this supposed to work? People board a train, the ride ops walk along the train testing if the restraints are locked, the find some that are not and they are "now allowed to pushdown" so they tell the person to exit? Common sense folks... pushdowns are one thing... "cramming" is another.

getting back to what Whaoo Skipper said, "if the bar locked, that was good enough". Quite frankly, that is how it should be. As I stated so before, if a person is too large to allow the bar to lock (push down or no push down) they should not be allowed to ride. If the bar does lock, it is reasonable to assume that it is safe for that person to ride. If a bar can lock, but not have the person secured correctly, then that is a DESIGN FLAW. As much as some hate to admit, these are machines built by engineers, and sometimes they make mistakes. Most cases accidents at parks are "rider error", however some seem not to want to admit that sometimes, just sometimes, a bad design or park operating procedure may be to blame.

"I wasn't always this cynical, but then I started kindergarden..."

I originally thought the reason why the belt are so short on Intamin are to prevent this from happening. Guess I was wrong! I'm a tall and weight around 240 and the belt is still pretty snug on me. I don't see how the belt could fit on me if I weight 90 pounds more, and I am tall!

I do agree with CF now implementing the fasting you own belt rule on Intamin rides until this is sorted out (still s little fuzzy with the B&M's). On Sunday because I was so bundled up and drew one of those short belts on Mantis, I had trouble getting the belt to attach. With a little work from 2 ride ops they got me In there, so I think that rule has been relaxed on that ride at least.  I fit in with plenty of room, it was just its near impossible to get any leverage. Actually the restraint clicked down a notch during the ride. Mantis with the trims off is more powerful than any 2 people :).

I wonder if there will be any design chances or this new rule will be permanent. I was told that they have been turning away a large amount of people on MF who can't get thier belt, which is what they have to do though now.

Save Cheese on a stick!

SFMM is really strict on the "no pushing" policy. They never push down except for the push down, pull up they do when they check.

At one park i used to work at the policy is let those in line that meet the height requirements on the ride. Let them lock the restraint. If it doesnt work, you can give a little push, but if it takes more than that, they are simply too big. Personally I think if you are an op and you push really hard to get it to lock. If something happens to that rider you are responsible as they were above exceptional size in the first place.

The problem with the rule, "if it takes more than that, they are simply too big", is the actual aspect of saying, "I am sorry sir/ma'am but you will not be able to ride."

In and of itself it doesn't sound that bad but try saying it in front of a platform of a couple hundred people.  Bottom line, this is a difficult situation that must be handled with some sensitivity but safety should be the main goal.

How far does these no push down policies go?

I'm a small person, relatively speaking. . . 5'10", 120 lbs. . . so I fit without a problem.  Usually, I like to leave some room on my restraints for comfort (and airtime!), and I'm fully aware of the possible consequences of my actions . . . not that there's ever any doubt I'm secured or anything. . .

But, I guess my question is. . .with a no push down policy, does that mean that the ride ops wouldn't lower my harness further as they always like to do?  ::grumble::

~ Michael ~

Obviously if you are small and your restraint is up too far the ride op will lower your restraint to a safe level.

The no push down thing simply is for guests who are too large to the ride op isn't supposed to forcefully push down to get the restraint to lock.

No pushdown refers to squeezing large people in--it has nothing to do with not being able to pushdown at all on someone's restraint if it is too high.  I would have thought common sense could have answered that question...but I guess not.

This is a horrible accident that obviously needs further investigation. I feel badly for the woman’s family and I am not going to pass judgment on who’s fault it is. What it possibly shows is just one more reason to never let your weight get out of hand. I don't think there is anything wrong with a park initiating a policy that would tell people who are too large or heavy that they can't ride an attraction. This world has gotten to sympathetic and lazy. No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings but that is too bad. No one should have to fear facing a lawsuit because they couldn't take the chance of hurting someone’s feelings. If a person is overweight they should expect that they might not be able to participate in everything that people who aren't overweight can. This may sound harsh but too bad. Being overweight is not healthy and the world should not have to cater to people who don't take care of themselves. I realize that this is huge (no pun intended) flame bait but that’s just the way I feel. People need to spend a little more time exercising and less time complaining that nothing is made to fit them because they are overweight.
What were the 29 "accidents" at Knott's this year?
Figaro - Shall the overweight be smited with your death ray as well?

What planet are you from?  Have you ever heard of metabolism?  There are quite a few of us overwieght people out here who do "take care of" ourselves, but are just big.  No matter what we eat, and no matter what we do.  It's just the way it goes.  Get a grip, and stop generalizing.

Obviously if you are small and your restraint is up too far the ride op will lower your restraint to a safe level.

Well, it's always at a safe level.  But, more than anything, I was being facetious.

But, one can hope, can't they?

~ Michael ~

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