One year after a Dallas woman tragically fell to her death at a Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, the legal issues are far from over.
The accident occurred on the evening of July 19, 2013, when 52-year old Rosa Esparza fell 75 feet from where she had been sitting, behind her daughter and son-in-law, on one of the thrill rides. Prior to this, Esparza was allegedly upside down in her seat and holding on for “dear life” before plunging to her death from the Texas Giant ride. This was Esparza’s first visit to the Six Flags theme park.
Following the tragedy, the Arlington Police Department and Six Flags conducted an investigation into what went wrong. The ride shut down for the rest of July and August, before reopening in September after the investigation found no evidence of mechanical failure. Added to the ride were restraining bar pads that had been redesigned, seat belts, and a coaster seat at the entrance so potential riders could determine whether they would fit into the cars securely. Esparza’s family learned that the coaster seat had remained stored after the Texas Giant ride reopened in 2011 following a $10 million renovation.
Since then, Esparza’s family has filed a lawsuit against Six Flags Entertainment and three other entities, as well as Gerstlauer Amusement Rides. They claim that had the test seat been made available to potential riders, the tragedy could have been avoided. Gerstauer and Six Flags have also filed cross claims against each other. Gerstlauer claims that a Six Flags employee failed to properly secure Esparza in her seat, or stop the ride when they thought the restraining bar was not in the proper position. The company also claims that although it provided seat belts to Six Flags, they were not installed until after the accident. Meanwhile, Six Flags argues that the ride, provided by Gerstlauer, was dangerously defective, and that Six Flags followed the company’s safety recommendations prior to the time of the accident.
Two months after Esparza’s family filed their lawsuit, all sides made an effort to settle the case through mediation, an effort that was ultimately unsuccessful. Now lawyers for all parties will be busy taking depositions and translating documents, with their eye toward the trial date in late January. Lawyers from Six Flags and Gerstlauer have taken depositions of Esparza’s daughter and her husband, while the family’s lawyers have deposed several employees at Six Flags connected to operating the ride. Several observers believe that the trial could last from four to six weeks to several years. Esparza’s family is seeking one million dollars for her death.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a product malfunction, you may be entitled to compensation, including medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering for complications related to use. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin & Shaw may be able to help. Call our office for more information at 1-800-862-1260.