Surgeon sues Disney for alleged California Screamin' injuries

Posted Monday, December 1, 2003 11:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney is facing more allegations of faulty maintenance procedures, this time by a Milwaukee surgeon who said he suffered whiplash and an ongoing neurological disorder after riding a roller coaster at its California Adventure amusement park. The doctor's negligence lawsuit, which goes to trial next week in Orange County Superior Court, challenges whether a safety restraint was properly lowered and lubricated.

Read more from The LA Times.

Monday, December 1, 2003 11:10 AM
Jeff's avatar I've never been on the ride, but I have a really hard time trusting that anyone would find that ride rough given Intamin's track record on that style of ride. The case seems like a stretch to me. You can blame Disney for not doing what they should have in terms of maintaining the ride, but you can't translate that easily into brain damage.
Monday, December 1, 2003 11:16 AM
beast7369's avatar Having been on the ride myself, I have to question whether or not this injury really is due to rider error. I found it to be rather smooth with minimal head movement when ridden properly. And so did my girlfriend. So much so for her that it is now one of her favorite rides and she gets headaches on rough coasters rather easily (mostly due to her small size).

It is unfortunate that he sustained an injury of this sort. I also find it rather difficult to believe he did not get the attention of a ride op in indeed they were checking the harnesses as they are supposed to. From our experience they did rather thoroughly.

The fact that he never filed anything about the injury with the park also makes this injury even more suspect in my opinion.

However, the supposed deposition by the maint worker that day that did not lubricate the harness as required by the park policy and by manufacturer recommendations could be what wins this case for this doctor. If I were the doctor I would have gone after the maint worker since he admitted and knowingly did not follow park policy nor manufacturer guidelines.

Monday, December 1, 2003 11:44 AM
Likewise, my girlfriend hates the over-the-shoulder-restraints due to major headbanging, yet she loved that ride (partly due to going the the loop around mickey's head) but also because you're head doesnt move too much. I was astonished when I read that the guy got whiplash on that ride!
Monday, December 1, 2003 11:59 AM
I hate OTSR's also, but my ride on CS during DCA's "test period" proved, just like Jeff has said about Intamins track record, to be very smooth and enjoyable.

California has become the mecca for BS lawsuits, and I think this is just anoth example of it.

Monday, December 1, 2003 12:40 PM
I think this doctor has brain damage for trying to take this to court. Aren't neurological disorders next to impossible to prove? I rode it a month or two after it opened I found it extermely tame and smooth. It was a fun ride but I don't see how it could anyone could have possiblt been hurt unless they weren't following park policies while riding or the ride malfunctioned. What would it matter if the restraint was properly lubricated that day other than it may be a little squeaky? If the matainance worker didn't follow policy i'm sure this guy will probably get his money even if he wasn't injured on the ride.
Monday, December 1, 2003 12:53 PM
You're thinking of soft tissue injuries, not neurological deficits. You can figure out a fair number of things with an EMG these days, but it's far from perfect.

This headline should have read: AMBULANCE CHASER GRANDSTANDS, HOPES FOR BIGGER SETTLEMENT. Frankly, it's his only chance. If this case goes to trial, Disney attorneys will subpoena his medical records, unearth the real problems in this man's life (whether psychological, chemical dependence-related or whatever) and reveal them as part of public record.

After a stunt like that, I'd cheer Disney on. Go get 'im.


Monday, December 1, 2003 1:04 PM
coasterpunk said:
I rode it a month or two after it opened [sic]I found it extermely[sic] tame and smooth.

Well, unfortunately, that would point to a flaw in maintenance, which it sounds like this guy is pointing the blame at. Sure, it was great when it was a month or two old, but what about now?

I haven't ridden CS, despite living very close to DCA (are you listening Disney? Your ticket prices are TOO HIGH!!), but that argument doesn't do a lot to dispute his.

That being said, I also think that the fact that we've heard of *1* lawsuit about this points to it being bogus. The few Intamin masterpieces that I've ridden were smooth as glass yet intense as could be. I'm going to run under the assumption that CS is just as good.

Monday, December 1, 2003 1:04 PM
I can see whiplash if the ride e-stopped, but how in the heck can an unlubricated Intamin horsecollar cause nurological issues? So the thing was harder to pull down. Wow.
Monday, December 1, 2003 1:41 PM
I just don´t get it! If he signalled to the crew that the restraint was not closed properly why didn´t he lower it himself? If he was unable to pull it, then it must have been severly out of order. That would either shut down the ride or would have caused the same problem with numerous other riders who sat in that seat before and after this man.

I haven´t done this ride, but other Intamin OTSR sit down Loopers. I have to admit that these cars and OTSR are not their best effort and I used to get headbanging on "Lethal Weapon Pusuit" at Movie World Germany. But even with a half opened OTSR you would bang your head at the same spots.

It should be easy to prove that this man is trying to cover up for something else, be it selfmutilation or an accident he had elsewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2003 3:34 PM
Soggy's avatar I've been on Cal Screamin' before it opened to the public, and numerous times between then and now. The most rescent being about 3 weeks ago. I can attest that the ride opened giving extremely smooth rides, and continues to do so. I have also never experienced restraints not lowering fully. Never has it been anything but smooth and utterly enjoyable. It's not very intense either. The worst of it being some high G's in the loop and the launch. The launch is what, 0-55 in 4-5 seconds. Nowhere near the intensity of TTD, Xcelerator or Hypersonic.

tricktrack makes a good point too. If the restraint was up a little, couldn't he just pull it down himself? They don't lock where they are, you can lower it further once locked, but cannot raise it until unlocked.

I also cannot believe that he could have been "violently shaken, jolted and pummeled" with the restraint being a bit too far up compared to being in the correct position.

I volinteer, as a roller coaster enthusiast, to be a charictor witness of the smoothness and rideability of Cal Screamin. There is no way, in my opinion, that this ride is capable of "violently shaking, jolting or pummeling" anyone.

Monday, December 1, 2003 3:44 PM
Yeah, this lawsuit is pretty frivolous. California Screamin is probably the smoothest ride I've ever been on. Its not even worth commenting on... Restraints needed lubrication? Whatever. I guess the other thousands of people that day had the muscles to pull it down. I hope this is thrown out of court, because it is nothing short of ridiculous.
Monday, December 1, 2003 4:44 PM
When an engineer goes to testify on how the restraint is designed, and how a lack of lubrication will have no effect on the mechanics of the restraint, I see this case being over there.
Tuesday, December 2, 2003 10:43 AM
janfrederick's avatar Yup, the defense has thousands of potential witnesses. What a joke. I guarantee the problem would have been more likely caused by the act of walking than the coaster. In fact, I think it's a little too smooth. I wish it were honest-to-goodness wood.
Sunday, December 7, 2003 8:32 PM
I think Disney should make a counterclaim that if the Doctor fails to prove his negligence case, he has to ride a Vekoma SLC for 20 straight cycles...

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