Confusion in decade-old Disney premises liability case

April 23rd, 2012 - by DKRPA

In 1998, a 68-year-old man was enjoying a day at Disney World. The resort — just outside of Orlando, Florida – is a massive tourism draw, as well as being a popular spot for local residents to go out and enjoy a family weekend. Disney World has many thrill rides, restaurants and businesses on its premises, and there are myriad safety checks that must be done to ensure that the resort’s patrons are kept safe.

It appears that may not have happened 14 years ago when the then 68-year-old went on the “Tower of Terror,” a well-known ride at Disney World. He suffered a stroke and sued Disney for the incident. In 2010, the man lost his case against Disney but appealed the ruling, saying that the judge should not have barred his general negligence claim which was filed with his premises liability suit.

Premises liability and general negligence have varying legal standards that could affect the appeal. Premises liability says that a landowner or person in control of property must maintain safe conditions (or warn patrons of dangers) on that property, and a failure of this leads to another person’s injury; general negligence says that someone, by “breach of duty,” causes harm to another person.

The distinction between the two types of suits is why the elder gentleman was not allowed to claim general negligence, though he will hope an appellate court will agree with his side of the story.

In addition, the man and his attorneys are attempting to label Disney World a “common carrier.” Common carriers — such as airlines or bus companies — have much more rigid safety regulations placed on them, and considering the amount of rides at Disney World, it certainly isn’t a stretch. If the park is given such a label, it would open them up to further litigation and possible place more liability on them for the incident.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Appeals court hears Disney thrill-ride suit,” Jason Garcia and Sara K. Clarke, April 22, 2012