DeeAnn J. Bailey v. The Arnold Group, Inc.; Edward H. Arnold; Bowman Racing, Ltd; Zytek Systems, Ltd; Kenneth C. Becker; Industrial Safety Services, Inc.; and Timothy Allen Horn d/b/a Midway Engineering, Montgomery County (PA) Court of Common Pleas C.A. No. 99-04011
Type of Action: Negligence & Product Liability—Defective Amusement Ride
Injuries: Scalp avulsion with associated hair loss and disfigurement
Result: $4,100,617.30: $2,700,000 Settlement and $1,200,000.00 Verdict $200,617.32 Delay Damages
Date of Verdict: April 29, 2004.
Case Summary: Plaintiff was a thirty-three year old woman who caught her hair on the unguarded rear axle of a go kart while riding at an indoor amusement center. As a result, her scalp was ripped from her head, including her hair, skin, flesh, sweat glands and nerves. Plaintiff underwent several unsuccessful skin grafts and other surgeries which left her with permanent loss of hair and scarring not only on her scalp, but on other areas on her body where the skin for the grafts was harvested. In addition, her activities were restricted due to the risk of further injury and infection.
Plaintiff filed suit against the company which owned and operated the indoor amusement center and its President individually; the companies which supplied the motor and go kart frame; the safety consultant who arranged for state mandated certification of compliance with ASTM standards; and the engineer who certified the go kart as being in compliance with Pennsylvania regulations and ASTM standards.
The defendant track operator, and its President, brought a motion for summary judgment claiming that plaintiff signed a release on a prior visit, one year and nine months preceding the accident, which immunized it from liability on all subsequent occasions (plaintiff did not sign any purported release of liability form on the date of the accident). These defendants also moved to dismiss her individual claims against the corporate President and her claims for punitive damages. The Court denied defendants’ summary judgment motion based on the release and found there was a genuine issue of material fact as to punitive damages. The Court did find insufficient evidence to proceed against the corporate president individually. Following these rulings, the case settled with the track operator and the defendant safety consultant for a total of $2,200,000.00. The manufacturer of the motor had previously settled with plaintiffs for $500,000.00. Claims survive against two defendants: the British company which manufactured the go kart frame and the out of state inspector who certified the go karts as complying with applicable standards. The case proceeded to trial. Verdict was rendered in favor of plaintiff awarding an additional $1,000,000.00 apportioned against the manufacturer and $200,000 against the inspector. The Court further awarded an additional $200,617.30 for delay damages.