|A result of exotic animal ownership or an irresponsible owner?|
- Erik H. Beard, Esq.
- I am an attorney practicing in Hartford, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I saw a particularly troublesome example of the collision between marketing and operations yesterday when I read a newspaper article on the Internet concerning ride safety at a large amusement park. In the interest of not drawing any negative attention, I’m going to use an alias for the park, Happy Funland, and I’m not going to link to the article, so you’ll have to trust me on what it said. At the top of the article was a photograph of a roller coaster descending down a drop. Sitting in the car were two people, both clearly wearing name tags of the facility, both obviously enjoying their ride screaming and smiling, and both with their hands flailing about up in the air. Under the picture was a caption reading, to paraphrase, “Employees test riding the WonderCoaster at Happy Funland Amusement Park.” As if this wasn’t bad enough was this paraphrased quote from a park official:
“Our staff is extremely knowledgeable in what is required to run our rides incredibly safely and safety is our top priority when it comes to operating any ride in the park.”
Really? ‘Cause the picture of the employees violating the safety rules sure doesn’t indicate to me that at least these employees are “extremely knowledgeable in what is required to run” this ride “incredibly safely.” Worse, if someone ever gets injured on this ride because they weren’t holding on, this is exactly the kind of thing that plaintiff’s lawyers will jump on and that makes my job defending the facility a whole lot tougher. This one highly publicized picture or other similar shots in marketing brochures or television commercials can (and will) come back to bite you (in that place that’s supposed to remain in the seat the whole ride) in the event of a lawsuit. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” is simply not a ticket to guarding against legal liability or building a solid liability defense.