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Wrongful death suit filed in woman's fall from Texas Giant coaster

As you probably remember, in July a woman was riding the Texas Giant roller-coaster at Six Flags in Arlington when she was apparently unable to hold on during one of the coaster’s twists where the riders are upside-down. Tragically, she was ejected from the ride, thrown into support pilings, and fell 75 feet to her death.

Her stricken family filed has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Six Flags Entertainment, claiming that the company was negligent in its maintenance or operation of the Texas Giant, and that negligence led to the woman’s death.

Indeed, when the coaster was inspected after the fatal accident, “disturbing anomalies” were found, according to the lawsuit. These included “inconsistencies in the relative locking positions of the safety bars in various seats in the car in which Rosa Esparza had been riding, and inconsistencies and intermittent failures in the green light system that was supposed to confirm the correct placement of the safety bars for the seats of the car.”

After that inspection, Six Flags admits it replaced a defective limit switch for a restraint bar in the very car the woman rode in, the lawsuit says.

In its response to the lawsuit, Six Flags denied any responsibility for the accident. First of all, it asserted, it shouldn’t be held responsible because it played no design or manufacturing role in the roller-coaster or in the restraint system that allegedly failed. It relied on the expertise of the companies that designed the coaster and the restraint systems.

Moreover, the company claims that it was not negligent in its operation or maintenance of the ride, as it followed all of the manufacturers’ instructions, the safety codes recommended by the international standards organization ASTM International, and Texas law. Furthermore, the ride was given a certificate of inspection by an independent inspector just months before the tragedy.

Park employees acted reasonably at all times surrounding the accident, the company says, and 2.5 million people have safely ridden the Texas Giant without incident since it was refurbished in 2011.

Which party is right? Often, the main reason people file wrongful death cases is that they need answers about their loved one’s death. Also, while they can’t bring back a family member, they can provide needed compensation, especially when the deceased was financially responsible for a family.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Roller Coaster Suit Faces Six Flags Resistance,” David Lee, Oct. 14, 2013

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