Settlement releases state from amusement ride case

Amusement parks are usually a fun escape from daily life. Negligence or unsafe equipment, however, can lead to injury and death in this unlikely venue. A partial settlement with the State of Ohio over the wrongful death of an amusement park rider and seven other injured riders is a reminder of the risks posed by unsafe amusements.

The riders were on a Fireball amusement ride that broke apart at the Ohio State Fair on July 26, 2017. One of its arms, which sent gondolas high into the air, snapped. The 18-year-old victim and his girlfriend flew into the air. Five other passengers fell to the ground with the gondola seating section.

The 18-year-old died. His girlfriend was injured and later underwent several surgeries. The five other passengers suffered injuries. The ride's manufacturer later found that excessive corrosion on the ride's metal support beams caused this accident.

The Ohio Highway Patrol released an investigation report in August finding that there was no evidence that the ride's operators committed negligence leading to this accident. Also, state inspectors apparently inspected and approved the ride for operation in accordance with its standards. The Franklin County prosecutor concluded that there was insufficient evidence supporting criminal action.

Recently, four of the injured riders and the estate of the 18-year-old victim entered a settlement with the state and agreed that it would not be held responsible for the accident. The Ohio Expositions Commission and the state will not pay compensation to any of the victims.

The settlement will not become official until a settlement is filed in the Ohio Board of Claims. After this lawsuit is filed, both sides will present the agreement for a judge's approval. It is unclear how the three other injured victims will proceed with legal action.

A 2005 law protects the ride's manufacturer because it sets a 10-year limit on a manufacturer's legal responsibility for product defects. The Fireball ride was built in 1998. However, the ride's owners or other private individuals and entities remain as parties that may be liable for the fatality and injuries in this accident.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Fire Ball victims release governments, may go after ride owner," By Kimball Perry, Feb. 15, 2018

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