Gerstlauer says Six Flags Over Texas specified New Texas Giant wouldn't have seat belts

Posted Monday, March 10, 2014 8:55 AM | Contributed by Red Garter Rob

In a cross-complaint filed in the case involving the death of a Dallas woman, Gerstlauer Amusement Rides said Six Flags Over Texas is solely to blame for the accident. Gerstlauer said the park “expressly designed and specified in writing that there be no seat belts.”

Read more from NBC News.

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Monday, March 10, 2014 10:56 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

Gerstlauer is design responsible for the ride vehicles. They can't pass that responsibility onto Six Flags. The park is responsible for providing the designer/manufacturer with their desires and requirements; it's then the manufacturer's job to provide a product that meets those requirements. This whole business about Six Flags not wanting seat belts is garbage. If they don't want seat belts, then design a system that is safe without seat belts, period. You can question employee training and a ride op's gut feel about whether or not a guest is safely restrained, but there should be no question as to who was ultimately responsible for the design, and that's the manufacturer.


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Monday, March 10, 2014 11:46 AM

I don't feel it's always that clear cut. If Six Flags didn't maintain or operate as was recommended by the manufacturer, then the liability doesn't completely fall onto Gerstlauer.

Basically, it seems that they should both have to pay the family of the victim some amount. Not convinced as to who is more to blame at the moment, but all will be told in time

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Monday, March 10, 2014 1:17 PM
Bakeman31092's avatar

It's one thing if Gerstlauer implemented seat belts as part of the design only to have Six Flags remove them. That would be a clear violation of the design intent and would absolve Gerstlauer of responsibility. I would think that if something like that happened then that information would've already come out.

It sounds like SF told Gerstlauer up front that they didn't want seat belts, so it then becomes Gerstlauer's responsibility to design a safe restraint system without seat belts.

If Six Flags didn't maintain or operate as was recommended by the manufacturer, then the liability doesn't completely fall onto Gerstlauer.

What we've read so far doesn't point to improper operation, other than possibly the ride host not going with his/her gut. Gerstlauer sounds like they are blaming Six Flags for specifying that they didn't want a seat belt, but if that's what the park dictated to them then they are still responsible for providing a restraint system that works without a seat belt.


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Monday, March 10, 2014 2:07 PM

They also said that Six Flags didn't provide all of the available means to educate riders (eg. the test seats), which could be brought up as a Six Flags' responsibility. Nit picky, yes, but still to be considered

Also, no one really knows what the maintenance of the ride was in at the time of the accident, as I highly doubt Six Flags would release those records anywhere but in court (for a variety of reasons, liability being one of them). It could very well have been a Six Flags mechanic's fault, not necessarily the design of the train.

Either way, I hope whoever actual is to blame is found.

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Monday, March 10, 2014 2:13 PM
Bakeman31092's avatar

Those are all hypothetical questions. I'm only interested in scrutinizing what Gerstlauer is saying, and this quote from the article is sketchy:

Gerstlauer Amusement Rides said the park "expressly designed and specified in writing that there be no seat belts."

Last edited by Bakeman31092, Monday, March 10, 2014 2:14 PM
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Monday, March 10, 2014 8:36 PM

What's sketchy about it? It wouldn't surprise me that SF specified how they wanted the cars to be configured. If the Gerstlauer's catalog configurations didn't satisfy them, then they can put in writing into the contract what they want. As long as they conformed with the at least the ATSM standards it was perfectly legal. It's likely that SF didn't want seat belts as they added an extra level of detail for the platform staff to deal with, not to mention one more thing that had to be maintained. Yes, maintained. If you have a seat belt go bad, and it can happen, you would have to block off that seat until it can be repaired/replaced. Never mind the fact that the restraint was perfectly capable of doing the job itself. From a liability standpoint, if it's there, it has to be utilized.

Now, would a seat belt have prevented this tragic accident? Maybe, maybe not, as this type of incident has happened with seat belts.

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Monday, March 10, 2014 8:56 PM
Bakeman31092's avatar

It's sketchy because it sounds like the designer is trying to pass off responsibility for the design to the customer.


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Monday, March 10, 2014 10:35 PM

According to the filing:

(9) Six Flags was heavily and integrally involved in the design, specification, testing, and installation of the trains; (10) the Six Flags Defendants are themselves designers of the trains and reviewed, inspected and approved of the trains’ design before installing and placing the trains into service.

and

Gerstlauer’s participation in the design and manufacture of the trains was not defective or unsafe in any manner. Gerstlauer’s production and delivery of the trains adhered to Six Flags’ specifications and design requirements, and the trains were placed into service only after Six Flags had exhaustively reviewed, tested and approved the trains and their design.

It sounds a lot like Six Flags designed the trains in-house, and Gerstlauer merely served as the manufacturer.

Last edited by SupermanFan1, Monday, March 10, 2014 10:38 PM
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Monday, March 10, 2014 11:17 PM
rollergator's avatar

SupermanFan1 said:

It sounds a lot like Six Flags designed the trains in-house, and Gerstlauer merely served as the manufacturer.

Wouldn't expect anything else from Gerstlauer, and I'm sure SF's filing will show the exact opposite.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 9:01 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

Pull up the engineering prints for the individual components and for the vehicle assembly. Whoever's name and logo is in the title block is responsible for the design.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 7:56 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I have an idea.

What if neither the designer nor the park are to blame?

What if they both are in some way?

Hmm.

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, March 11, 2014 7:56 PM
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 9:34 PM
D_vo's avatar

I think it's interesting that their main defense is that Six Flags said they didn't want seat belts. Not having seat belts isn't really the root cause for this accident. Granted, they almost certainly would have prevented it, but the primary issue is that the restraining mechanism on the train failed to do its job.

With that said, I'd like to think that the train designer is responsible for designing a safe ride vehicle, whether or not seat belts are present.


I call Cedar Point my home park even though I live in the Chicago Suburbs.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:16 PM

I don't know who's to blame or who ordered what. But I do know what I like and most often it's no seat belts. We've all been to meetings or announcements where a park rep, in giving details about an upcoming ride, will proclaim gleefully that the ride will run without seatbelts to applause and cheers from the enthusiasts in attendance.

While we as a subculture represent a small percentage of actual ridership, I still think some parks keep an eye on us as an indicator of what's "best". Plus, and this is much bigger, if a park can be assured by a manufacturer that the locking mechanism is safe I'd think they would naturally opt for no belts. It eliminates a step in the station and increases flow and capacity which only makes customers happy. The number one complaint from park guests isn't that they didn't feel safe, but that they got tired of waiting.

I guess I fall in with the camp that believes the park wouldn't have gone ahead with this train had they even an inkling that it wasn't totally safe. I've been to trade shows and I've noticed that every single ad or promotion for amusement park rides and coasters stresses the safety aspect of their product to potential customers. They have to, as safety is the number one thing a park provides their guests. So it stands to reason that Gerstlauer might've entertained the request from Six Flags and in doing so assured them that their product was perfectly safe anyway. I'd like to believe there's just no way that a reputable company like Gerstlauer would provide a product against their own better judgement.

The unfortunate late lesson learned by everybody involved should be that guests come in different sizes. Can they be 100% sure that a seat belt would've made a difference for this poor lady anyway? I guess only if she had been turned away because the belt wouldn't close around her...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014 7:04 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

A seat belt probably would've done more to screen her as not fit to ride than it would've in actually saving her life while on the ride.


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Thursday, March 13, 2014 1:51 AM

In my opinion, this very public expression of arguments by Six Flags and Gerstlauer is an un-interesting and un-enlightening exercise in the most useless part of any incident investigation: the Pointing of Fingers and Assignment of Blame. There are two problems with this ritual. One is that it is an ultimately pointless exercise that gets us no closer to identifying the mechanism and proximate cause of the incident. Second, and worse, is that the inevitable posturing relating to this little exercise actually inhibits the efficient and accurate investigation of the cause of the incident, and hence the prevention of future incidents.
The result is that corrections are made based not on the actual conditions of the incident, but on the most convincing arguments and the best sounding explanations.
Deciding who is to blame for a failure of the restraining system on the ride will not change the fact that a customer is dead because the design or it's implementation failed. To me, it is far more important to concentrate on identifying and correcting the failure of the design...no matter who might have had a hand in its failure...than in trying to figure out who is most to blame for it.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
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Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:13 AM

Bakeman31092 said:

It's sketchy because it sounds like the designer is trying to pass off responsibility for the design to the customer.

SF ultimately signs off on the ride, So do state inspectors so saying Gerstlauer is solely to blame is rediculous

Some fault? Probably but like most of these cases, The damage will be spread around. In what proportions and for how much, We'll never know, as most settlements come with a confidentiality clause.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014 9:33 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

...so saying Gerstlauer is solely to blame is rediculous.

Which is why I never said that. All I was questioning was the statement regarding SF's involvement with the design and the lack of seat belts. SF is still Gerstlauer's customer. The customer can "sign off" on the product, but if they do everything they're supposed to do in terms of operation and maintenance (not saying SF did necessarily) and the product still breaks or doesn't function properly, that is not the customer's fault.


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Thursday, March 13, 2014 9:36 AM

Not to split hairs, but has there really been a "public" expression of arguments in this case? Most if not all of the information released recently has come from court filings made public by the court.

And Texas doesn't have state inspectors. The inspection process is carried out by contractors hired by the operator or their insurance provider. Inspections are far from exhaustive and rarely consist of more than a guided tour.


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Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:14 AM
Jeff's avatar

RideMan said:

One is that it is an ultimately pointless exercise that gets us no closer to identifying the mechanism and proximate cause of the incident.

I'm pretty sure you know that isn't the point of the "exercise." The point is to attempt to limit the financial hit either party has to take.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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