Walt Disney World Co. v. Goode, 501 So. 2d 622 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1986)

This case involves a theme park accident, where a young four year old boy died on premises by drowning. A wrongful death lawsuit was brought on by the child’s parents against the amusement park.

Joel Goode was only four years old when his parents brought him to Florida’s number one theme park, Walt Disney World. After spending the day in the park, Goode’s parents became concerned when they could not find their son at around eleven at night. After hours of searching the park with Disney staff members, the young child’s body was found in a waterway close to where he was originally separated from his parents. A medical examination of the boy’s body was conducted and it was determined that no foul play was involved in his death. The cause of death given by the corner was drowning.

After an intense investigation, it was established that no witnesses observed Goode entering the waterway where his body was discovered. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Goode’s parents against Disney. A jury verdict was returned in the parent’s favor, awarding each parent one million dollars. The kicker in this case was that the jury determined that Goode’s mother was comparatively negligent in her son’s death, sharing fifty percent of the liability alongside Disney.

Florida is a destination for theme park enthusiasts from around the world. As such, there are millions of people who flock to the ‘Sunshine State’ every year to take full advantage of the tropical climate and multitude of amusement parks throughout our state. When planning their trips to come visit these parks, the last thing that is on the minds of these travelers is the potential for injury or death of a loved one. The fact still remains that theme parks report more injuries in their parks a year than many of us could begin to believe.

Accident-related deaths and injuries that take place in amusement parks happen in a variety of ways. It is easy to assume that a catastrophic injury or death in an amusement park accident is the result of a roller coaster, water ride or pyrotechnic stage show. While there is no question that these specific theme park attractions are capable of inflicting serious injuries, the reality is that there are many different causes of amusement park accidents which take place on a much more frequent basis. As in the above case, a mother becoming separated from her young child resulted in him venturing off and finding a way to enter one of the park’s waterways. Danger comes in many forms at these exciting family theme parks.

As exciting as it may be to visit these amusement parks, it can be equally dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not taken by the staffs that operate the park. Small openings into dangerous waterways, which are big enough to allow a child to enter, should not be something that goes undetected. As shown by this case, the potential harm that can come from such a seemingly small problem can be catastrophic. The ultimate purpose of theme parks is to generate revenue through creating experiences in their guests that will keep them coming back again and again. Some experiences, however, leave impressions in the minds of amusement park goers that can have a negative effect. When an amusement park fails to protect their guest from hidden dangers, they are negligent in their actions by Florida law standards.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Florida theme park and have questions about whose fault it is, then contact our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys and we will go over your case with you at no cost.