Trial begins for surgeon versus DCA

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2004 9:11 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A shoulder harness that allegedly failed to close properly on California Screamin' at Disney's California Adventure caused whiplash and a neurological disorder to a Milwaukee surgeon, forcing him to stop his practice because of pain, his attorney said Tuesday. Disney's attorney says the man's injuries likely stem from a car crash, not the ride. The surgeon's attorney counters that the restraint was not maintained properly.

Read more from The LA Times.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004 9:13 AM
The restraint was at eye level? Come on... I can't even imagine that happening at a county fair. Interesting turn that the defense says he was in a car accident. Funny how that detail hadn't come to light until now.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 12:10 PM
How can a restraint lock in the up position?
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 12:11 PM
Let's see, this guy is involved in a lawsuit, against Disney (aka deep pockets). Shoulder restraints at eye level, attendant didn't check seat belt, attendant let him ride while doing a headstand... They'll try anything to get a huge settlement.

Personally, I would blame Eisner :-p

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 12:30 PM
The thing is, if I understand the inner-workings of any of the modern Intamin restraints, they can't lock in a manner that causes them to not close more because of the direction of flow in the hydraulic system. I think it's good that Disney went to trial on this one because I think the suit stinks. I just don't buy it.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 12:45 PM
Free PR for their safety systems. ;)
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 12:47 PM
Hi all,

I'm not acquainted with all the facts of the case here, but something doesn't appear right: apart from the very valid points made by Jeff, Danimales and Bigkirby, I would have thought that there would be warning lights to indicate that a restraint wasn't closed; maybe a mechanism to prevent a train from being dispatched without a restraint being closed. Also, why didn't the man bring this to the attention of the ride ops before being dispatched. Would anyone with an ounce of sense leave the station of a coaster with their restraint around their head without a huge fuss???

I'm sure there is some CCTV station footage that'll settle the matter once and for all. The gentleman being involved in a car accident cetainly seems to put a twist on the procedings. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, but it does look a bit dodgy, to say the least. Here's a thought, I wonder if he/or any other parties involved in the accident had adequate insurance?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 2:05 PM
No way the train would have made it out of the station unseen with a restraint at eye level. Its just way too obvious. Worst case, the ride would have been E-stopped before it got out of the station. There are at least 4 ride ops on the dock at all times on that ride, and I think it just short of impossible that none of them saw this.

And unless it was stuck (I'm not sure if thats what he is arguing or not), couldn't he have simply pulled the restraint down himself?

His arguments just seem a little less than belivable, IMO.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 2:58 PM

I would have thought that there would be warning lights to indicate that a restraint wasn't closed.
I don't know anything about the ride, but that may not be the case. I know that all of the Intamin hypers I've seen have no dispatch-disabling mechanism to guard against dispatching with the restraints up because I've seen them run with open restraints. Judging by the constant "recheck restraint" instances I see on impulses, I'm guessing that maybe those do check the restraint positions and disable dispatch.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 3:42 PM
Hopefully the "car crash" information didn't get challenged and thrown out as "not relating" to the issue. That's what happened in a jury trial I was on.

Plaintiff suing defendant for an accident that caused major mouth damage. Defendent claiming no fault. The defending lawyers brought up a previous accident where the plaintiff put his car into a ditch, coincidentally, two blocks from where I lived. The plaintiff claimed the ditch was only 2 ft deep (it's 12 feet deep at least) and they had police photos which set the light off in my memory. I'd SEEN that car head first in the ditch. No way the guy would have walked away from it without damage. The judge threw that testimony out. So it could not be considered in our decision. I knew the guy was lying, but couldn't say a word.

If the testimony of the previous accident is deemed not related, the jury, legally, cannot consider it in their deliberations.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 5:02 PM
CPLady, that's what so sucks about the court system. In that case it was obvious that the guy's injury was a pre-existing condition, but thanks to some legal mumbo-jumbo it's in admissible.

I just hope to God that this surgeon does not win this case. There are just too many things that I know (as an enthusiast) that tell me he's full-o-crap. Intamin restraints CAN come down further after a dispatch, but not up. Disney always checks restraints, I have never gone unchecked on any ride at any time at any Disney park. Also, Cal Screamin is such a smooth ride, it seems impossible to have been able to cause such debilitating and life-long pain.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004 6:11 PM
When I worked at SFA last season, I was surprised at how simple the Intamin control panel was compared to heavily-computerized panels on Joker's Jinx (which actually knows how many trains have been launched per hour) and Batwing (with its fancy light-up switches and touch-screen panel). It was something like two dispatch buttons and four lights (I only saw the panel once, and never operated the ride).
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Friday, January 30, 2004 1:35 PM
I'm just wairing for Nate to chime in and say it was the parks fault when obviously it again sounds like a rider responsibility case associated with a pre-existing automobile accident where he had his seatbelt wrapped around his neck.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2004 1:22 PM
Like Intamin Fan said, the dispatch panels don't have that much "stuff" on them because there really is no need for it. All the main controls are located in the control booth located in the "tower" in the center of the station...most Disney rides are designed that way.

In addition to there being 4 ops at all times there are cameras between the load zone and the launch...lets see the tape! I mean seriously, someone watching the launch would have seen if a restraint was up. Also I have never seen a Disney ride where they leave a restraint up...even if the seat is empty...this guy just wants the money!

I know this is off topic, but one of the really cool things about Cali Scream is the fact that those dispatch panels can swivel making it easier for the op to pay attention to the panel from different directions!

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