By: David J. Bruno, Esq.
On August 14, 2016, I appeared on Fox News’ “Americas Election HQ” with host Arthel Neville (@ArthelNeville) and attorney Richard St. Paul, Esq. to discuss who is liable and whether additional regulations are necessary after the death of a 10-year-old boy on the tallest waterslide in the world at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas.
There are two important legal issues as a result of a tragedy like this. First, who is responsible? Second, how can we prevent this in the future?
There will certainly be parties civilly responsible as a result of this accident. In these types of accidents, the cause of action is usually negligence. Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person or company would exercise in like circumstances.
Here, the Amusement Park, the manufacturer of the slide, the architect, the engineers, the construction company and the insurance inspectors are all possible responsible parties that may be liable to dead boy’s family.
This was an accident waiting to happen and these parties had plenty of notice that there could be an accident. There were problems during the testing phase of the waterslide and there were even reported problems by riders in the weeks before the accident.
How can we prevent this from happening? Surprisingly, there are no federal regulations that govern these types of waterslides. The regulations are left to the states. Here, there were essentially no state regulations absent zoning laws and building codes. Kansas Amusement Parks were left to themselves to inspect their rides and parks. Those inspections were subject to random state audits however the Schlitterbahn Waterpark had not been audited in four years.
The lack of regulation is especially concerning. As consumers, we have an expectation of safety. To think that no one is holding these parks to a level of safety is ludicrous. In reality, these parks are essentially limited by their insurance providers depending on how much risk the insurance companies want to bear.
This Amusement park took risks. They wanted the tallest waterslide in the world. They wanted to be featured on various TV shows on the Travel Channel and ESPN. They wanted to create a buzz to make money. They pushed the limit and took a risk doing it.
Accordingly, as discussed in this appearance, it is my opinion that the victim’s family will be compensated accordingly and that federal and state legislatures must come together to properly regulate these industries.