Officials at the Monmouth County Fair acted aggressively to safeguard patrons by shutting down an amusement ride after a similar machine malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, breaking apart and ejecting riders. The accident killed an 18-year-old rider and seriously injured seven more. Similar rides have been closed at fairs in California and in Edmonton, Alberta.
Known as “The Fire Ball,” the ride features a pendulum arm that extends to a claw consisting of six prongs, each holding a perpendicular row of four seats. As the pendulum swings in an arc to a height of 40 feet, the claw spins like a pinwheel at 13 revolutions per minute. The Fire Ball is described as an “aggressive thrill ride,” and since its debut in 2002 it has been one of the most popular rides offered by Amusements of America (AOA), a traveling carnival operator servicing the eastern and Midwestern United States. The ride is a product of KMG, a Dutch manufacturer of amusements. KMG reports that the ride that malfunctioned was built in 1998 and is one of 43 such rides worldwide, including 11 in the United States.
The Fire Ball had passed a reportedly rigorous inspection after being assembled at the Columbus site. According to a Fox News report, Ohio’s Chief Inspector of amusement ride safety stated that the Fire Ball had been inspected three or four times before the fair opened.
Until an investigation is concluded, it is impossible to say for sure who might be held liable for the accident. If the machine was defective by design or manufacture, KMG would be liable. But since the machine is 19 years old and had a clean performance record up until this time, it would be difficult to prove it was unreasonably dangerous when it was built. Moreover, Ohio has a 10-year statute of repose in products liability cases, which bars lawsuits on items manufacture longer ago.
AOA, as the vendor, has the responsibility to maintain the ride and warrant its safety. However, the State of Ohio might also be liable if its inspection protocols are shown to have been inadequate.
If you are injured by a defective product in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, consult an experienced personal injury attorney at Seigel Law as soon as possible. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free case evaluation.