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Judges Rule for higher safety standards in California

The recent tragic death of a 4-year old after riding Walt Disney World’s Mission: Space attraction at Epcot has highlighted the lack of oversight by local, state, or federal agencies for the Florida tourists destination.  Now California’s Disneyland theme park, which operates under some of the strictest state oversight in the nation, has just been told by the state Supreme Court that those standards aren’t tough enough.

The judges agreed with the family of a woman who claims to have suffered brain injuries in 2000 while riding the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland. The ruling states that the themepark should be held to the same safety standards as transportation companies (such as trains and light rail). This ‘Common Carrier’ status requires much more bureaucracy and oversight and holds the company to a higher standard of safety such that attractions are "safe and fit for the purposes to which they are put" and that a "a carrier of persons for reward must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage" (civil code section 2100). This decision upholds an earlier appeals court finding.

Disneyland, of course, claims those standards are met and exceeded by their existing policies. But now that is for a court to decide.

It’s my understanding that what really changes with this ruling is that previously Disneyland was only held responsible if they were found negligent. Now, the park is responsible for any injury that occurs on the attraction that was not deliberately caused by the individual.  In this case, Disney would be liable if the attraction caused a blood vessel to burst even if that condition was unkown prior to the person getting on the ride. If this holds up then rides like Indiana Jones and high speed roller coasters will have to carry incredibly high insurance or possibly be shut down.

There is a worry that this case could be the beginning of the end for Amusement Park rides. That this sort of liability makes the business of providing thrills untenable. So look for Disney to pressure the state legislature to step in and provide them some relief (probably in exchange for further oversight).

2 thoughts on “Judges Rule for higher safety standards in California”

  1. I can’t believe what I am reading. So you are telling me the insane, liberal judges in California are going to make Disney liable for ANY LITTLE STUPID ACCIDENT that happens on their property??? Now all the scummy, sue-happy losers are going to come out of the woodwork to make some quick money and Disney and companies like it will never be the same. Someone tell me I’m reading this wrong or that the situation is not as bad as it seems in the long run. What the hell is happening to this country??? Are we or are we not a free country? I rode a bicycle my whole childhood without a helmet and I survived…

  2. Welcome to Disneyland! Before entering the park, please stop by our Medical and Psychological Screening Pavillion for initial clearance, then sign this small Guest Waiver form (or you may download the 96-page document from prior to your trip here). Once these steps are completed, you may purchase a One-Day ticket from our booths at the special ABA (American Bar Association) rate of $4,352 for adults; $15,423 for children ages 3-12. Attractions open and available for your enjoyment today are the Tiki Room, the Main Street shops, and the Partners statue. Have a fun and SAFE day here at the Most Careful Place on Earth!

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