Surgeon's injury suit goes to trial next week against Disney

Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2004 7:54 AM | Contributed by supermandl

A case involving a surgeon who claims he was injured due to faulty maintenance at Walt Disney Co.'s California Adventure amusement park is set to go to trial as soon as next week, the doctor's lawyer said on Tuesday. Marc Feldman filed the lawsuit in June 2002 on behalf of David Heber, a surgeon who claims he was seriously injured in August 2001 because a safety restraint was not properly lowered and lubricated on the California Screamin' roller coaster.

Read more from Reuters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 8:25 AM
I geuss because your a Doctor, that makes you an expert on ride maintainence as well!
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 8:37 AM
I want to be on whatever this doctor is on if he's in the prime of his career as his lawyer claims. Nevermind the fact that he's 57. Sounds like he's looking for a big fat early retirement fund.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 9:35 AM

It takes a LOOOONG time to become a surgeon. I can't think of a profession that takes a longer time to get into. You are going to be older when you begin, and then it takes time to build up a reputation and a practice. 57 is probably about right for prime time career wise for a surgeon. Whether or not he really suffered a soft-tissue injury is something I don't know.

And guess isn't the surgeon who's an expert on ride maintenance. His lawyer will have hired industry "experts" to give advice and to testify. Whether they are bending the truth, stretching it, or if Disney's maintenance is really slipshod is something else I don't know.

I guess I feel badly that you seem to be automatically siding with the theme park, and don't even consider the fact that there MIGHT have been some bad maintenance, and someone might have actually gotten hurt. Rides break down all the time. If the maintenance doesn't keep the ride up and running, why is it so hard to believe that maintenance on a safety device might have been a problem? I'm not saying that it was, I'm allowing for the possiblitity that it might. Think about that the next time you ride. In between thinking about the possibility of brain hemorrage from being banged around, or blood clots forming in your legs during high -g rides, and causing a stroke, or the possibility that someone will be smoking a joint in line, and when the police jump him, you, an innocent bystander, are injured....or the possiblity of a micrometeorite falling to earth and killing you just as you reach the head of the line for that great new ride...


Wednesday, January 21, 2004 11:19 AM
I don't think it's unreasonable for anyone to think something ain't right when someone claims the restraint hurt him on a notoriously smooth ride. I hope that the jury is required to find proof that it was the ride that hurt him, regardless of whether or not Disney's maintenance was inadequate.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 11:46 AM
To the best of my knowledge I am unaware of ANY steel coaster out there that will not allow a rider to pull the restraint down until they feel they are secure. In fact I continuously see people pulling restaints very tightly when I visit parks. Why didn't he just try pulling the restraint down further if he was feeling uncomfortable about where it was? If there had been a problem with it going down all the way I feel pretty comfortable that it would have been an obvious problem when some kid who was most likely smaller than this guy had the restraint up above his head and couldn't get it down any more. Also if it was stuck due to lack of lubrication then why was it able to go back up when he returned to the station? Oil doesn't magically work one time and then not work the next. I realize there is probably alot we don't know about the case but in todays lawsuit happy society we live in you gotta wonder if this is just not another crack pot. Also I am not siding one bit with the park. I'm basically being selfish and thinking about the higher ticket prices I have to contiuosly pay because of stuff like this. I do know there is considerably more that goes into when a ticket price rises but I'm sure insurance costs are one of those little details that do help.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 1:23 PM
This lawsuit is most likely bogus. But unfortunately Disney has brought this on themselves with their reduction of quality of their maintenance procedures and the Big Thunder accident which was a result of that. Now that the fact that their maintenance has been substandard has been made public, drooling law-suit oriented wolves are going to pounce on this and use this as basis for frivelous cases.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004 5:09 PM
I agree with Jeff. Screamin' is an ultra-smooth ride. I really don't see how a partially closed restraint would 1) go unnoticed when dispatching. It's a horsecollar for Pete's sake. or 2) hurt you.
Thursday, January 22, 2004 8:33 AM
The Big Thunder incident wasn't caused by a reduction in the maintenance procedures on Disney's behalf; it was caused by individual maintenance personnel not doing the job as required. Obviously that's still a huge problem, but not relevant to this discussion.

The lawsuit was filed in 2002, so you can't really think that the guy's trying to cash in on the BTM incident. He's trying to cash in alright, and it will more than likely be used in the case they put forward, but it's the media who have taken to following this case, as a result of BTM.
Heber claims he was violently jolted, causing whiplash and an ongoing neurological disorder that forced him to give up his career as a surgeon.

Okay, it was either on the launch, or somewhere on the course or the brake run. The actual course of the ride is silky smooth start to finish, you could remove someone's spine and they'd remain upright on this thing (this guy was just born without one though... :)), so we'll go to the launch then. I can't clearly remember (it was six weeks ago!), but aren't there "keep heads back" signs on the back of each row, as well as the usual ride information signs outside? Then there's the soundtrack which tells you straight up to keep your head back.

To be fair, the brake run does bring you to a sudden stop. It makes you lurch forward a bit, but he's explicitly said a violent jolt, so cross that off the list, so it's back to the launch, where regardless of how loose or non-existent your restraint is, you're not going to get any whiplash unless you're not following directions, which in a reasonable situation like this, will find that Disney wasn't at all negligent if the guy did actually suffer form whiplash.*** This post was edited by auscoasterman 1/22/2004 8:33:39 AM ***

Thursday, January 22, 2004 11:31 AM
Whiplash actually results from two things: First a sudden jolt in one direction (which causes some injury, but doesn't necessairally cause whiplash). Secondly, which causes the whiplash, is when the muscles in your neck stop your head from moving in the direction it was jolted. This sudden stop is what normally causes the sprains and strains known as whiplash.

I find it odd that even the launch, which when it jolts you your head doesn't recoil, would cause whiplash. Even then, unless the guy was leaning quite a distance forward in his seat I don't really see the range of motion on the neck being extended beyond the comfortable limits to cause a sprain and strain. If the guy was able to lean that far forward, his restraint couldn't have even been halfway down. If the restraint wasn't even half way down, how on earth would the ride op who checked it not notice?

Take all that with a grain of salt, as I'm not familar with the case and I'm not a professional medical kind of person.


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