Lawsuit possible in Darien Lake death

Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:34 PM | Contributed by Jeff

It appears more likely there could be a lawsuit in the wake of a fatal roller coaster accident at Darien Lake Theme Park earlier this month. A well-known Buffalo law firm has begun assisting in the investigation into the death of Army Sergeant James Hackemer. An investigating attorney says a jury reward could be reduced if they find Hackemer is partially at fault.

Read more and see video from WGRZ/Buffalo.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 3:30 PM

This is BS. I am sorry that this guy died but whoever pushed him on the ride and allowed him to go on it is the one at fault. Not the park. People who go to amusement parks should rely on taking care of themselves and be responsible for thier own actions while at the park.

I stated this on this on the other thread about this case. What a perfect way to kill someone by putting them on a ride that they weren't supposed to ride in the first place. The people can sue the park for their own actions and blame the ride for it.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:03 PM

I'm not convinced it's that simple. We don't know what the exchanges were between him and ride ops or other park staff, or if he was particularly insistent on it, or if he knew of the restrictions.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:03 PM

That is true majorcut, It's almost a good way to commit murder and get off without any charges! I had not viewed the situation in that manner (obviously that wasn't the case here) but that sounds plausible.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:40 PM

Oh geez. Murder?

Anywho, the park didn't follow their own policy. The Sheriff said that, I believe. At that point the park is at least partially to blame.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:42 PM

Ehhhhh, I'd say that, while not *criminally* negligent, the park did break their own policies. Someone should have known better, and a civil suit seems appropriate.

IANAL, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:54 PM

How long before someone asks what "IANAL" means?

IANAL either. :)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 5:00 PM

iAnal, the new product being announced at September's Apple event.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 5:01 PM

PS I hear bill gates called iAnal a piece of crap.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 5:30 PM

RCC, it's very plausible since the expenses for taking care of him would be quite a bit of money that the wife doesn't have. He also had a stroke which means that he was not there mentally to his fullest. The wife could have lied to the cops when questioned. I bet he had at least a million in insurance on him. If he died in a so-called accident like this, then the wife would get the money. Anyone would with enough common sense would know that riding a rollercoaster in the condition that the sgt was in, wouldn't let him on.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 6:52 PM

The park cannot and should not be held entirely responsible. Equal blame has to fall on the rider for failing to follow the posted rules.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 7:05 PM

But in the end it was the responsibility of the employees of the park to enforce the rules.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 7:27 PM

Raven-Phile said:

IANAL, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

But I played one on TV...

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:30 PM

Majorcut said:
RCC, it's very plausible since the expenses for taking care of him would be quite a bit of money that the wife doesn't have. He also had a stroke which means that he was not there mentally to his fullest. The wife could have lied to the cops when questioned. I bet he had at least a million in insurance on him. If he died in a so-called accident like this, then the wife would get the money.

Not only did someone suggest murder as a possibility in this case, someone else has endorsed that suggestion. Wow.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 9:56 PM

I'm really curious as to what medication - and how much - he had in his system at the time.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 10:02 PM

I have seen a few people refer to the rules posted on signs. Legally, they don't mean jack in absolving the park/operators of liability. The parks put them up to try to avoid the liability of incidents just like the one that took place before they happen, but that doesn't mean the park isn't liable. Ever see the Caution: Wet Floor signs in stores? If you slip and fall right after reading that sign and get injured, do you honestly think the store isn't liable? Nobody signs away their right to sue a park when entering the gates. All that language on the back of tickets also doesn't protect the parks. The vet really should have known better, yes, but the operators are ultimately at fault for letting him ride.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 11:20 PM

ILRider said:
The vet really should have known better, yes, but the operators are ultimately at fault for letting him ride.

The operators, possibly. Criminally, certainly not, but civilly, possibly. The park, no.

As for everything else, IANAL, but I'm pretty sure the notices and ticket do go quite a ways towards absolving liability as long as proper training of employees is shown (so that the operator is clearly acting on their own in defiance of park policy/rules).

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011 11:43 PM

If the victim's family says they didn't hire the law firm, then who else could possibly file the suit? I suppose the ex-wife could-- assuming the sister meant that it was none of the siblings who hired them. Should a suit be filed, it will be interesting to see what the plaintiff(s) are seeking. Some of the usual damages you see tacked on to civil suits don't seem to apply here-- lost wages, companionship.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:12 AM

maXairMike said:
...but I'm pretty sure the notices and ticket do go quite a ways towards absolving liability...

I'm not aware of any cases in 12+ years of watching these things shake out where that makes any difference.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011 12:35 AM

Like I said, I imagine it would be a highly conditional situation. It may not be a typical "contract," but at least in Ohio, park policies technically carry the weight of law if it would get to that point in the process. I'm not sure of the specifics (especially pertaining to NY), but I would imagine that as long as it is shown these were "rogue" employees (fully trained, but willfully operating outside the rules), that severely diminishes responsibility on the part of the park and puts it all on the individual operator(s). Of course, just like in the majority of other park cases, this would likely be settled before it is allowed to reach the point where this debate would come to light and be answered.

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