Florida theme parks – Disney, Universal, Legoland and more – owe a duty of care to adequately warn visitors of possible danger, whether it’s a slippery walking surface or a ride with jerks and jolts that could be dangerous to someone with a heart condition or who is pregnant. In fact, as businesses that invite members of the public on site for the benefit of the property owner, these companies owe visitors the highest duty of care to patrons. But what does it mean to provide “adequate warning”? Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know there is a good argument to be made that an adequate warning at a theme park that attracts visitors from around the globe is one that is provided in numerous languages.
This is the allegation in a recent wrongful death lawsuit filed against Universal Studios Orlando by the family of a Guatemalan man who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016 shortly after exiting a suspense-filled roller coaster-type ride featuring animatronics and 3D screens, the rider seated in a “truck” as they speed through the scenes of the recent King Kong films. Decedent, a man in his 50s, reportedly had prior heart problems – a risk factor outlined in prominent warning signs just before riders board. However, decedent was unable to read those warnings because they were written entirely in English, while he understood only Spanish.
His daughter, executive of his estate, relayed in her complaint that her father told his family he didn’t feel well after getting off the right. His wife opined maybe he had an upset stomach. He decided to sit out the next ride on a nearby bench while his wife and son boarded another ride. By they time they returned to him, he’d collapsed. After an alleged delay in rendering aid, crews transported the man from the park to a hospital, where he later died of a heart attack, according to the lawsuit.
As our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys can explain, even though the man had a pre-existing heart condition and even if a heart attack may have been inevitable at some point, Universal could bear some liability if the ride exacerbated the man’s condition, the park/ ride manufacturer knew of the possibility and failed to adequately warn him.
We know the park/ ride manufacturer was aware of the potential danger because the sign posted in English expressly stated – at the very top – those with heart conditions and abnormal blood pressure should not ride. In a bold red banner at the top of the sign were the words, “Failure to follow posted guidelines may result in serious injury…”
Plaintiff’s attorneys will now need to answer whether the ride played a role in his heart attack and whether the park warned him adequate?
What Makes a Theme Park Ride Warning Adequate?
The question of whether the park had a responsibility to translate the warning to Spanish (or any other language) depends on the likelihood the park was going to be receiving Spanish-only guests.
There is ample evidence Florida theme parks like Universal, Disney and others specifically target international visitors with their marketing, with Spanish language advertisements and an easy “translate to Spanish” feature on their website for booking. They WANT those visitors at their parks and hotels. When they accept those international visitors (some 2 million visitors come to Orlando annually just from Latin American countries), they have a responsibility to make sure warnings are communicated to those guests.
Our Fort Lauderdale amusement park accident attorneys know there is likely little argument the park could make that such warning signs at ride entrances would be unreasonable. Prior cases determining warnings or disclosures be printed in all languages would really be specific to those matters because ultimately, the court will decide what is both reasonable and prudent for that individual defendant. However, it does not seem such a request would be unreasonable for a large Florida theme park, given that these are tourism meccas.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Lawsuit: Universal Orlando negligent in visitor’s death for warning signs only in English, Dec. 30, 2018, By David Oliver, USA Today
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Florida Injury Lawsuits and Social Media: Think Before you Post, Nov. 30, 2018, Florida Amusement Park Injury Attorney Blog