Mother of Tyre Sampson settles with operators of Orlando Free Fall

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The mother of Tyre Sampson, who fell to his death last year while on the world's tallest tower drop ride, has reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit with the Florida amusement park, ICON Park, and ride's operator Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, her attorney announced Wednesday.

Read more from ABC News.

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I was on that side of town for work yesterday and the tower is starting to come down.

Additional steps to hold other companies accountable continue, according to Haggard, who claimed that the ride's manufacturer -- Funtime Handels of Austria -- has tried to "evade responsibility."

why should they be held accountable if it was operator error according to the story?

Last edited by The_Orient_of_Express,
Jeff's avatar

I think that's a tricky legal question. Recall that the investigation showed that the restraint was adjusted to a tolerance that was too wide to safely restrain the boy. If I'm thinking like a lawyer for the defense, I need a plausible explanation of why it was possible at all to make that adjustment, and why the service manual didn't indicate what the limit should have been. That changes the question from "was it their fault" to "did they make it possible create a condition that resulted in death." I don't know what that legal standard is.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

delan's avatar

They’re dismantling it already? I have passed by that tower several times to go play mini golf. Thought….one day I should ride it.

Vater's avatar

I don't believe that thought would ever cross my mind since the incident.

delan:

They’re dismantling it already? I have passed by that tower several times to go play mini golf. Thought….one day I should ride it.

You may get the chance yet. Just not in Orlando.


Tommytheduck's avatar

As someone who is in Orlando occasionally for work, I was waiting for the tower to open to justify a trip to the complex where I could ride both it and the Starflyer in a single visit. Unfortunately, I never made it.

I for one would not be worried to ride it after the accident if given a chance. If it is indeed rebuilt somewhere else I'm sure it would be made perfectly safe and something like this would not be allowed to happen again.

Vater's avatar

Tommytheduck:

I for one would not be worried to ride it after the accident if given a chance if it is indeed rebuilt somewhere else.

Fixed. Period was in the wrong place.

Jeff:

I think that's a tricky legal question. Recall that the investigation showed that the restraint was adjusted to a tolerance that was too wide to safely restrain the boy. If I'm thinking like a lawyer for the defense, I need a plausible explanation of why it was possible at all to make that adjustment, and why the service manual didn't indicate what the limit should have been. That changes the question from "was it their fault" to "did they make it possible create a condition that resulted in death." I don't know what that legal standard is.

Heh, I imagine it would go just about like that.

Plaintiff's attorneys often over-include in terms of naming defendants. You likely do not know everything at the time you sue so who is legally responsible may not be clear (sometimes who you thought was responsible is only partially responsible (or even not responsible at all) based on discovery process after suit is filed). You can dismiss one or more defendants later if turns out there is no liability/legal culpability. And defendants can move to be dismissed. Can create problems/delays if you need to add another defendant later in the process.

I'm sure it would be made perfectly safe and something like this would not be allowed to happen again.

Are we talking about a drop tower or the banking system?

One can always still ride the Starflyer and The Wheel. (Which is so much fun, and each party gets their own huge car, another great benefit of the pandemic) (Provided it doesn’t catch fire while your up there)

I didn't realize that! I haven't been on it since shortly after it opened and they crammed way too many strangers together in those cabins back then.

Jeff's avatar

We had Legoland passes that were good there in the year or two after it opened. We never had to share a cabin, and probably went a dozen times. Solid aquarium there, too.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Tommytheduck's avatar

Vater:

Fixed. Period was in the wrong place.

Hah! I see what you did there. But we're saying the same thing. I don't doubt for a second that the ride is/was/has always been perfectly safe, illegal modifications aside.

delan's avatar

Sez Vater:

I don't believe that thought would ever cross my mind since the incident.

——————-

My bad - I should have clarified. That was before the incident. I haven’t been close by since….hence why I haven’t noticed they were taking it down.

Getting back to the incident in question for a moment, Jeff quite rightly asks, to the question of why the manufacturer should be held accountable...

"I think that's a tricky legal question. Recall that the investigation showed that the restraint was adjusted to a tolerance that was too wide to safely restrain the boy. If I'm thinking like a lawyer for the defense, I need a plausible explanation of why it was possible at all to make that adjustment, and why the service manual didn't indicate what the limit should have been."

Part of the aftermath of an incident like that is the desire among affected parties to "DO SOMETHING!" about it and make sure "Nothing Like That Can Ever Happen Again." As a result of this, I am learning of a very interesting dynamic between American interpretations and European interpretations of existing and proposed safety standards. Let's look for a moment at what may well be the bane of my existence as a somwhat heavy-set enthusiast. Here, therefore, a Reading from the 6th section of ASTM F 2291-22a, Chapter 4.3, beginning with the 8th verse--

6.4.3.8 Area-5—A Class-5 restraint is required. A Class-5 restraint is generally defined as a redundant locking restraint device for each individual patron. A Class-5 restraint shall have at least the following:

(1) Number of Patrons per Restraint Device—A restraint device shall be provided for each individual patron.

(2) Final Latching Position Relative to the Patron—The final latching position of the restraint must be variable in relation to the patrons, for example, a bar or a rail with multiple latching positions.

[irrelevant stuff omitted]

(5) Restraint Position Monitoring—An external indication is required. Detecting the failure of any monitored device shall either bring the ride to a cycle stop or inhibit cycle start. The design shall allow the operator to perform a visual or manual check of the restraint each ride cycle. [emphasis added]

[irrelevant stuff omitted]

(7) Redundancy of Locking Device—Redundancy shall be provided for the locking device function.

(8) Monitoring of Locking Device—The locking device shall be periodically tested prior to being put into operation with patrons. The frequency and procedure of such a periodic test shall be determined by the designer/engineer.

(9) Restraint Configuration—Two restraints, for example, upper torso and lap bar or one fail-safe restraint device is required.

Thus sayeth the ASTM Committee F-24.

You see what is required here, and how the drop tower checked all the boxes. Noting, of course, that the drop tower was likely built to comply with EN13814, but the relevant section of F2291 has been largely harmonized with EN13814. They aren't quite identical, but at least they rhyme, and compliance with one will generally bring about compliance with the other, which is useful if you're a European ride builder hoping to build rides for use in North America where most jurisdictions (including Florida) require compliance with ASTM.

Notice that requirement (5). Notice there is nothing in that requirement about what the external indication is intended to indicate. Only that it be an external indication, and that the design of the restraint allow for the operator to check for proper restraint position. The standard does not specify that the external indication show the correct restraint position. Language suggesting this (referring to this as an "External Correct or Incorrect Indication" was actually changed since F2291-20. (I don't have the 2021 or 2022 versions handy so I don't know exactly when it changed). The exact meaning of this has been of some debate, and the change was made to harmonize with the European standard. After all, if you have an adjustable restraint, it stands to reason that any allowable restraint position could be "correct" or "incorrect" for any given rider. Here in the USA, it's usually been interpreted to mean that the "correct" position must be the restraint position which is considered adequate restraint for the very smallest person who can be permitted to ride. Much to the collective annoyance of us bigger people. Meanwhile in Europe, the industry practice is to use the external indicator to indicate only that the restraint is properly latched at some potentially reasonable position. At best the indicator should indicate "go" when the LARGEST allowable rider is adequately secure, and at worst should merely indicate that the restraint is locked (like the old Arrow pedal counters). As I understand it, the latest draft of EN13814 goes so far as to specify that the external indication should NOT be visible to the ride attendants; that their instructions should include specifications of how the restraint is supposed to fit the rider, and the restraint should be positioned in that manner. It's an approach I kind of like just because it recognizes that a restraint positioned to keep me securely restrained on a ride may be positioned in a way which is clearly inadequate for a smaller rider. The bad thing about that, of course, is the judgement call it requires of the ride attendant. But a review of the documentation on the Orlando free-fall tower indicates that the manufacturer had just this in mind, and that while the ride did have a go/no-go indicator without any adjustment specifications, the manual did specify requirements for restraining a patron, noted that ride operators were to be trained in these requirements by the manufacturer or by a lead operator trained by the manufacturer, and failed to indicate that the go/no go indicator had any bearing whatsoever on the safe restraint of the patron apart from indicating that both of the lock cylinders were in a locked state and the restraint had been lowered.

The manufacturer's defense in this case is that they complied with the requirements of the industry standards for restraint monitoring, and their manual clearly requires that it is the operator's responsibility to determine whether the rider is safely secured in the ride, regardless of any external indication, which is not even mentioned in the loading procedure in the manual. That it was possible to operate the ride with the restraint in an unsafe position for any given rider is irrelevant as the requirements in the operating manual clearly spell out the restraint requirements and clearly place the burden for evaluating compliance with those requirements on the operator.

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this approach (truth is, I would prefer to see the entirety of ASTM F2291-22:6.4.3 stricken completely and replaced with a requirement to provide restraints as required to comply with the (already required) patron restraint analysis, without giving explicit requirements). But that's where the standard leaves us. Already there's an attempt underway to tighten up the requirements, but that has stalled largely because of this fundamental disagreement over the role of a go/no-go indicator.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Remember, sometimes the worst thing you can do is "something".

Last edited by RideMan,

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Jeff's avatar

That's all well and good, but you're making a pretty uncertain assumption that the interpretation of rules from standards bodies means anything at all in court. "It's on the operator" is akin to "it's on the drinker" who burns themselves with hot coffee. Just because it says "hot" on the cup doesn't mean the victim won't win. And in this case, I wouldn't buy it either. You can't reasonably expect the operator to be experts in human factors.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I don't disagree with you. Just providing what little insight I can into where the manufacturer is likely to be going with this. Assuming it's even an issue; does the manufacturer even exist as a legal entity anymore? Or did they do the usual, dissolve themselves and form a company that declines to be a successor to the original company, so the plaintiffs have to go after a bankrupt company, or a few former company principals who don't happen to have any assets at the moment...

For the record I don't think that's right either. But the gulf between what is "right" and what is "legal" can be pretty broad.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

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