About Me

My photo
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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

On a Roll: Cedar Fair Wins A Major Victory For The Industry In The Missouri Supreme Court

Cedar Fair has done it again.  In 2011, Cedar Fair came out on the losing end of a surprising California Court of Appeals decision, Nalwa v. Cedar Fair, L.P., a case that stunningly held that guests riding a bumper car ride do not assume the risk of injury caused when the cars bump.  In 2013, the California Supreme Court reversed that decision in a decision that represented a major victory for the entire industry.  In November 2013, Cedar Fair again suffered defeat in a case called Chavez v. Cedar Fair, L.P. (“Chavez I”), this time in the Missouri Court of Appeals.  That case broadly expanded the standard of care applied in negligence cases against amusement parks, likening their operation of amusement rides to the operation of airplanes, explosives or firearms.  I strongly criticized the Chavez I decision as not only bad in result, but bad in the flawed reasoning required to reach that result.  Well, the Missouri Supreme Court seems to have agreed (although I won’t go so far as to surmise that any of the justices read this blog necessarily).  In a decision issued on November 12 called Chavez v. Cedar Fair, L.P. (“Chavez II”), the highest court in Missouri not only overruled the Court of Appeals ruling in Chavez I, but also took the remarkable step of undoing more than sixty years of case law defining the negligence standards applied to amusement parks in Missouri.  Whereas, before Chavez II, it could safely be said that some, not all, amusement operators would be held to a heightened degree of “utmost care” in preventing injuries to their guests, after Chavez II, the law in Missouri is the more appropriate “ordinary care” standard in every amusement case.  This is a big win for the industry.  And once again, we have Cedar Fair to thank for it.