Bill Childs - MassTort.org

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Bill Childs - MassTort.org
Criminal Liability in the
Amusement Context
Bill Childs
Assistant Professor of Law
Western New England College School of Law
Springfield, Massachusetts
http://masstort.org
[email protected]
Criminal Liability in the
Amusement Context
• Is there an amusement industry-specific
trend?
• What factors increase the risk of criminal
exposure?
Prosecutions 1984-Today
Pigeon Forge Zamperla
Hawk
Shrewsbury Sizzler
Great Adventure Haunted
House
Travis County Fair Himalaya
Lake County Fair Scooters
Electrocution
1999
2004
0
1984
0
1989
1994
Investigations 1984-Today
0
0
0
1984
1989
Broward County Fair Eyerly
Monster
1994
1999
2004
Holiday World Raven
Fresno County Kiddy Train
Lake Compounce
Water Park
Bell's Schwarzkopf Wildcat
SFNO Schwarzkopf Polyp
PGA Intamin Drop Zone
Prosecutions and Investigations 1984-Today
Pigeon Forge Zamperla
Hawk
Shrewsbury Sizzler
Great Adventure Haunted
House
Travis County Fair Himalaya
Lake County Fair Scooters
Electrocution
1999
2004
0
1984
1989
Broward County Fair Eyerly
Monster
1994
Holiday World Raven
Fresno County Kiddy Train
Lake Compounce
Water Park
Bell's Schwarzkopf Wildcat
SFNO Schwarzkopf Polyp
PGA Intamin Drop Zone
Potential Factors
• Coincidental (?) charging decisions
• Investigations were happening during
•
•
•
some gaps
Attendance trends
More riders = more injuries (even if rate
stays the same) = more prosecutions
Publicity
Markey, Internet, etc.
Prosecution trends regarding corporations
Enron, WorldCom, etc.
•
•
•
What results in
charges?
• Touchstone for civil lawyers: Look for
things that would set off your punitive
damages antennae
• Remember basis for many manslaughter
claims: reckless disregard
• Disregard implies knowledge (actual or
imputed)
Great Adventure Fire
• Met code according to local inspectors, due
in part to status as “temporary attraction”
(five years old)
• “Deteriorating conditions”
• Safety report from employee regarding
dangerous conditions: “Forget it, too
numerous to mention.”
• Warnings of smoking, use of lighters,
thrown matches
• Inspector suggested sprinkler system
Travis County
Himalaya
• Lap bar pin too small, possibly inadequate
materials
• Lap bar latch inadequate
• California report ordering modifications to
cotter pins not followed
Lake County Fair
• No permit for hookup (thus no inspection
by licensed electrician)
• 80-year-old lineman doesn’t know what the
green wire is for
• Ride owner knew of damaged light fixture
wiring but did nothing about it
• Operators and supervisors ignored
complaints of shocks
• Fuses bypassed with aluminum foil
• State inspectors check grounding box but
hadn’t checked it
lds • When Criminal and Tort Law Incentives Run Into Tight Budgets and Regulatory Discretion
As suggested above, there is plenty of blame to go around in connection
h the death of Greyson Yoe, and much blame has already been allocated.
electrician and the ride owner were prosecuted criminally.
The
Pigeon Forge Hawk
• Jumper cables bypassing restraint safety
check system
• Happened before
Sizzler
• Lap bar nut improperly replaced
• Bolt with head removed gave way
• Undersized bolt sheared off
Broward Cty. Fair
• Crack painted over
• Potentially improperly stored
• Focus on state inspection system
Bell’s
• Used Nylatron in rollback device; not to
Schwarzkopf’s specifications
• Failed to report recent repairs
• Concerns regarding statute validity and
intent
Fresno County
• 13-month-old fell out of train, struck
• No indication of past problems, warnings,
etc.
PGA Drop Zone
• Fire official had suggested a belt from
harness to seat; not installed
• But trouble establishing causation
Lake Compounce
• Six-year-old drowned at end of waterslide
• Prosecutor believed a statutory violation
had occurred (underage and undertrained
employees), but not committed by the ride
owner, so no liability under the statute
Holiday World
• Investigators found no criminal conduct
• Rider conduct caused death
Holiday World
• Investigators found no criminal conduct
• Rider conduct caused death
• Query outcome if something similar
happens anywhere
Six Flags New Orleans
• Patron in ride area when ride started
• No indication of past problems or
procedural errors
Lessons
• Document everything.
• Bulletins
• Maintenance/Modifications
• Warnings and Responses
• Bypassing Anything
• Get all the bulletins.