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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Merlin Entertainment's Bold, And Extremely Smart, Move In The Aftermath Of The Smiler Accident

News in the amusement industry for the last week has been unfortunately dominated by the tragic events that occurred at Alton Towers on the Smiler roller-coaster on June 2.  As the days have progressed, it has become clear that the Smiler accident, in which a loaded train collided with an empty train on the track, was extremely serious, resulting in severe injuries to three guests, one of whom, seventeen year old Leah Washington, had to have her left leg amputated above the knee. 
For several days now, I’ve read the media coverage of this event and have purposefully decided not to write about it.  Why?  Because anything I might say about the accident itself would be pure speculation, something I strive to avoid.  But today, something about this case caught my eye that I could not ignore.  Today, according to media reports in the UK, the owner of Alton Towers, Merlin Entertainment, did something that most American operators (and their lawyers) would scarcely consider:  it took full responsibility for the injuries to its guests and promised to compensate each one.  I think, given the circumstances, that this was exactly the right move and one to which other operators should pay close attention.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

IAAPA’s First Virtual Advocacy Day Is Here! And We Need Your Support!

This week, IAAPA’s North American Government Relations Subcomittee will be on Capitol Hill for its annual Advocacy Day (the name is actually something of a misnomer, since it actually takes place over two days).  On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 24-25, twenty-three members of the committee (including me) as well as invited guests from other IAAPA committees and members of the industry, will be meeting with elected officials in the House and Senate, their staffs, the Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other government officials to communicate the industry’s interests to those that shape federal policy.  In all, we have scheduled thirty-six legislative meetings, including meetings with seventeen members of Congress, in only two days. 

This year, IAAPA’s Government Relations Department, as well as the North American Government Relations Subcommittee, is asking for your help to make Advocacy Day 2015 an even bigger success than it usually is.  In addition to our physical presence on the Hill this week, we are asking you to take part in the first-ever Virtual Advocacy Day!  What’s that, you ask?  Well, while we are meeting face-to-face with members of Congress and other policy-makers in Washington, we want you to take to social media with the hashtag “#IAAPAVAD” to amplify the messages that Advocacy Day attendees are bringing to DC.  Tweet your Senators!  Tweet your Representatives!  Tweet the CPSC, the State Department, the Transportation Department, the FAA!  Show them that you care about the industry and the issues that affect it. 

So, what are the issues that we will be addressing over the next few days and how can you help?  Well, keep reading to find out more about our priority issues and how you can contact your representatives and policy makers.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Do Height Requirements On Rides Violate The ADA?

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending a couple days with a highly talented group of amusement professionals at the iROC Safety School in Las Vegas.  This is the second year that I have been invited to speak at the event, and it is quickly becoming a highlight of the year.  The topic of both this year’s and last year’s presentations was the Americans With Disabilities Act which, as faithful readers of this blog know, is a particular passion of mine.  After a 90 minute seminar on ride access last year, much of the Q&A session revolved around the issue of autism which, coupled with the filing of the lawsuit against Disney, prompted me to take a closer look at the issue in the “Here & Now” series.  This year, I came to iROC ready to go on the issue of autism, but interestingly a new issue reared its head that I hadn’t thought a whole lot about before: The question of height requirements and, specifically, whether enforcing a height requirement against a guest with a disability violates the ADA.  So, as with the autism issue last year, I thought this deserved a little more thought and some attention here. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Six Flags Just Earned A Win In An ADA Case - And No One Seems To Have Noticed

Forest or Trees?
Last week, as I was toiling away on a big case I’m working on, my email inbox blew up with news of an ADA case out of a federal court in New Jersey involving Six Flags Great Adventure.  As many of you know, I usually pay close attention to such things, and the news I was hearing was uniformly bad:  “Six Flags lost another ADA decision,” some told me.  “The judge in New Jersey got it dead wrong, just like the judge in Texas,” said others.  “These judges are starting a war between parks and manufacturers,” someone else suggested.  The newspaper headlines seemed to uniformly focus on the “victory” for the disabled plaintiff.  Unfortunately, it took me a few days to get around to actually reading the decision, and guess what?  Much to my surprise, I disagree with much of the reaction I had encountered.  In fact, while it is not a home run for Six Flags, there is much in the decision that is extremely good for the industry in terms of ADA compliance.  Yes, at the end of the day Six Flags lost this particular ruling, but focusing on that is a mistake as it overlooks two very positive aspects of this ruling for the industry, and the strong chance I believe Six Flags will have to win this case should it go to trial.