Lawyers Unfairly Target Amusement Parks, Group Says

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( - Personal injury lawyers are attempting to create a "cottage industry" by linking brain injuries to thrill rides at amusement parks, said the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

ATRA cited statistics by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that showed more people were injured in 2000 using trampolines, golf equipment and bicycles than were injured on or in amusement rides of all types.

Industry data, according to ATRA, showed that around 99 percent of those who board amusement rides and attractions enjoy their experience without any incident whatsoever.

"Following the same attack plan they've used with unwarranted lawsuits involving breast implants, asbestos, and mold, the lawyers are labeling unsubstantiated evidence as 'science,' attempting to use it to create media sensationalism and an absurd public scare," the ATRA said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), at the request of Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), announced the formation of a "blue ribbon panel" to review and analyze brain injury risk as it relates to amusement park rides.

Markey introduced legislation calling for tighter safety requirements on amusement park rides.

BIAA officials said in a statement that the panel would analyze available national and international research, data, literature and case studies as they relate to the impact of amusement rides and whether there is any impact on riders.

"Going to amusement parks has practically become a staple in a family's summer vacation," noted BIAA President Allan Bergman.

"But as roller coasters and rides get taller, faster and more thrilling to compete for attention, people are understandably beginning to ask 'how safe are these rides?' That's exactly what we anticipate this panel will be able to answer at the conclusion of this review," he said.

BIAA also said the "tentative completion" of the review is set for sometime this fall, and its final recommendations will be provided to Congress.

ATRA doesn't agree with the BIAA.

"The amusement industry continues to hold its position that safety is its top priority and relentlessly works on improving amusement ride safety standards to provide an enjoyable visit for every guest. Most injuries at these parks result from people ignoring safety rules or from pre-existing health conditions," the ATRA concluded.

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