Colorado’s waiver law limits legal options for amusement park riders



In this file photo, the Haunted Mine Drop amusement ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park which opened in July 2017.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A Roaring Fork Valley attorney said Colorado law had “no teeth” when it came to enforcing rides inspections.

Basalt-based attorney Beth Klein is experienced in malpractice law. She said on Friday that the Haunted Mine Drop, the amusement park ride at Glenwood Caverns involved in the recent death of 6-year-old Wongel Estifanos, had passed all inspections since it opened in 2017. The inspections were carried out by a sub -section of the Colorado Department of Labor. and Employment and a Third Party – most recently by Worldwide Safety Group, Inc.

No shortcomings were noted in the documents made public by the State. Inspections, however, can still be successful despite any citation of deficiency.

Klein said that when a deficiency is reported, the organization cited must correct it within 30 days of the citation. If the organization chooses not to do so, the next inspection – which is usually annual – becomes more stringent, she said.

Meanwhile, any potential legal recourse regarding the death of Estifanos, who died while at the haunted mine at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on September 5, is subject to Colorado law.

The park reopened to visitors on Sunday, but the Mine Drop remains closed as the incident remains under investigation.

It is unclear exactly what caused the fatal fall of Estifanos, who was on vacation with his family in Colorado Springs, while riding the Haunted Mine Drop. The ride quickly descends 110 feet in less than 3 seconds. Riders must be at least 46 inches tall to climb the haunted mine site, according to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park website.

According to Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire, the medical examiner identified several blunt injuries.

But according to Denver-based attorney Michael Burg, who is a founding shareholder of national law firm Burg Simpson and a leading litigator in the United States, individuals and businesses are essentially immune from litigation. when someone signs a waiver before engaging in recreational activities. When a waiver is signed, all negligence claims are released.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park requires all parties to sign a waiver before riding.

In February 2015, Burg represented a client who was seriously injured while riding the Alpine Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Burg unsuccessfully argued in court that inadequate lighting and security camera caused his client to collide with broken-down cars on the racetrack and break her back.

“Cars back then didn’t have lights on – they didn’t have headlights, they didn’t have taillights,” Burg said. “It was very dark outside and you couldn’t see the cars in front of you. “

The case was dismissed by the judge since Burg’s client signed a waiver before entering the amusement park, he said.

According to information sent by Klein, in 2002 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that parents could not waive a child’s right to sue. Colorado Senate Bill 253 was enacted by former Governor Bill Owens on May 14, 2003 in response to that decision. Because of this statutory law, it is legal in Colorado for parents to release their minor’s rights to sue for negligence.

In addition to Colorado’s juvenile release law, Burg said Colorado is one of the few states where laws governing wrongful death claims have a cap for financial damages.

“We don’t need this cap. Other states do not have it.

Klein also noted that “non-economic losses include past and future grief, loss of companionship, impaired quality of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering, and emotional stress that a claimant (and everyone represented by the claimant) has lived and will know. Under Colorado law, the limit for non-economic damages is $ 571,870.

Burg said that not having these laws in place not only prevents families from getting compensation, but safety improvements cannot be made.

“We have to make sure that this kind of thing never happens again,” he said. “At the moment, there is no incentive. “

Journalist Ray K. Erku can be contacted at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]



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