The amusement park that would later become Dollywood began as a small attraction called Rebel Railroad in 1961. Over the years, it gained popularity, expanded, and evolved becoming Silver Dollar City in 1977. In 1986, the popular singer and actress Dolly Parton joined the Silver Dollar City team and the park was re-named after her. Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood now has a theme park and a water park. In addition, guests can stay at the Dollywood's DreamMore Resort or rent a Dollywood Smoky Mountain Cabin.
Like other theme parks, Dollywood has a number rides and attractions for guests to enjoy during their visit. One such ride that is the center of a lawsuit is the Waltzing Swinger. According to The Tennessean, this is "a revolving ride with individual seats ascending 25 feet into the air and tilting outward." One unfortunate guest suffered significant injuries while on this ride and she subsequently brought a lawsuit against Dollywood seeking damages.
In December 2013, Tedi A. Brown visited Dollywood with her family. They decided to go on the Waltzing Swinger. It was their first time doing so. The lawsuit states that prior to boarding the spinning swings, "Brown and her husband, Derryl, asked a Dollywood employee if the Waltzing Swinger was safe to ride in the wintry conditions." They were assured it was fine. The accident occurred at the end of the ride after it had finished spinning and come to a stop. As "[t]he swinging chairs lacked locking mechanisms to restrain riders . . . anyone could lift the lap bar and become unrestrained." The lack of a lock allowed Tedi Brown to lift up her lap bar too early. Even though the ride had come to a stop, the riders were still 10 feet in the air.
The Tennessean reported that the suit alleges that "Brown thought the ride was over and lifted her lap bar to exit her seat." Brown "quickly realized" she was still too far up to get off the Waltzing Swinger, "but lost her grip on the lap bar due to the slick conditions." She fell out of her chair and hit the ground head first. She suffered brain injuries as well as "spine and neck injuries, torn ligaments and a broken jaw."
The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the park because it did not close the ride "when the weather was a wintry mix of rain and sleet, which rendered the seats and lap bars of that ride dangerously slick." In addition, the lawsuit states that "[t]he park also failed to warn the family not to raise the non-locking safety bar until the ride was safely on the ground." Brown is currently asking for $475,000 in damages, as well as other costs. The park has refuted liability for her injuries, claiming that Brown jumped out her seat.
It is unclear if the lawsuit is still pending or if it has reached a settlement.
Some 300 million people visit the various amusement parks across the country every year. If you or a loved one was injured while at an amusement park, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Luvell L. Glanton today at (615) 244-4511.