Judge dismisses suit of woman who fell off bench at amusement park

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Feb 18, 2010

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- U.S. District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren dismissed a woman's allegations that the Arkansas amusement park, Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, was responsible for her injuries after she fell off a park bench.

The judge found that the park had maintained its benches and therefore, there was no evidence of negligence.

The original personal injury lawsuit was filed by Darlene Davis on Jan. 23, 2009, in the Garland Circuit Court of Arkansas. The case was transferred to the Hot Springs Division of the Western District of Arkansas on Feb. 26, 2009.

Davis states that in the middle of the summer of 2008, she was inside the park and was sitting on a bench, when a screw popped out, causing her to fall backwards.

Davis says she sustained serious and permanent injuries during the incident, including injuring her back, neck, head and aggravating preexisting injuries.

According to the complaint, while Davis was filing a report on the incident, maintenance was called and proceeded to fix the bench. Davis then states she complained to the defendant but the amusement park denied her claim.

The park denies Davis' claims and states that shortly after the incident was reported, the bench was inspected by the maintenance manager and facilities manager. They found the bench to be fully intact and in good working order. The bench was removed and taken to the maintenance department, but still nothing was found wrong with it.

The lawsuit accused the defendant of failing to provide a safe premise for invitees, placing a defective bench for invitees to rest upon, failing to train or properly supervise employees regarding the inspection of benches, and otherwise, failing to exercise ordinary care for the safety of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff argues the defendant also failed to warn her of the dangerous condition presented by the park bench and that she could not have discovered or protected herself against that danger.

Magic Springs filed a motion for summary judgment referencing several undisputed facts that included how the park maintained its benches on a regular basis, how the benches undergo a thorough overhaul on an annual basis, and how maintenance staff visually inspects the benches several times per week. The motion also referred to Davis' testimony that the bench appeared to be in good condition and that if it was broken, it was not easy to tell.

Finding no evidence of negligence, Judge Hendren wrote, "a property owner is not an insurer of the safety of invitees on his premises, but his liability to an invitee must be based on negligence."

Judge Hendren granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment which dismissed the woman's allegations.

Davis was seeking damages for medical care, transportation expenses, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

The plaintiff is represented by Hot Springs attorney Gary L. Eubanks.

Case No 6:2009cv06015

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