About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, 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.

Legal Disclaimer (because, you know, I'm a lawyer)

This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Special Report - Tragedy On The Texas Giant: A Call For Focus Amid Distraction

Its been a bad weekend for the amusement industry.  First, an incident on Friday evening at Cedar Point's Shoot the Rapids ride resulted in several minor injuries, with one guest treated and later released from a local hospital.  Luckily, all indications at this point in time are that this incident looked worse than it actually was.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the incident at Six Flags Over Texas, occurring just a couple of hours later, that tragically ended the life of Rosy Esparza after a fall from The Texas Giant roller coaster.  Understandably, these incidents, particularly the death of Ms. Esparza, have garnered a huge amount of attention from the local and national media, not to mention social media, over the last 36 hours.  That's to be expected when an event like this occurs.  Over the next few days, there will be a plethora of media reports, tweets, Facebook posts, and editorials opining about what happened in Texas, how it could have been prevented, and what is "wrong" with the amusement industry that such an event could occur.  In the midst of this maelstrom, I think it's important to keep some perspective and to keep a few things in mind so that the important work ahead of us can get done and get done right:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Planes, Trains, & Waterslides? Missouri Imposes Heightened Liability Standard On Amusement And Water Parks

The Missouri Court of Appeals this week issued a stunning decision in Chavez v. Cedar Fair L.P. holding that a water slide operator (or, in that case, a family raft ride operator) owes the same duty of care as a so-called “common carrier,” i.e. operators of mass transportation – airplanes, trains, ships, etc., to safeguard guest safety.  In so holding, Missouri has become the first state in the country to impose this heightened standard of liability on water park operators.  The Court’s analysis is fundamentally flawed both in its application to the allegations in this case and in providing guidance to future courts in future cases.  Even accepting the Court’s suspect legal analysis, the result ignores the plaintiff’s own allegations of liability – allegations which should have resulted in a lower standard of care than that which the Court imposed.  Moreover, and more importantly, the Court failed to undertake the case-by-case analysis the court claims is required to reach the result it did, thus sending the wrong message to future courts.  If permitted to stand, this decision will increase liability exposure to Missouri amusement operators (both water park and otherwise) and sets a dangerous precedent for amusement industry cases filed in other jurisdictions.  More on all of this after the jump.**