Dollywood Says Park Not Responsible For Woman Left Brain Damaged By Fall From Ride, Claims She Jumped

Representatives for Dollywood claim that the Tennessee-based theme park cannot be held responsible for injuries passenger Tedi A. Brown suffered on a park ride. The theme park claims the woman wasn’t harmed due to a ride malfunction but rather she jumped.

The Daily Mail reports that a lawsuit was filed by Tedi A. Brown and her husband Derryl after the woman allegedly fell from the park’s Waltzing Swinger ride. The Browns claim that sleet and ice made conditions unsafe for operation of the Waltzing Swings when they visited with their five children in December of 2013. However, despite the poor weather, Dollywood employees continued to allow passengers to board the ride. Tedi claims that she specifically asked the swing operator if the conditions were safe for operation and was told everything was fine.

The Browns say that Tedi rode the ride successfully but prematurely lifted her swings lap bar when the ride neared its stop. However, after lifting the lap bar, she soon realized she was not close enough to make it to the ground and tried to put the bar back down and lost her grip due to the sleet. Subsequently she toppled, head-first, to the ground which resulted in brain trauma and other injuries.

Dolly Parton
Country music singer Dolly Parton is co-owner of the Dollywood theme park. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

According to the lawsuit documents, Tedi slipped out from underneath the bar while the ride was still 10 feet in the air. She slipped on her back after she was unable to secure the bar back into place. As she slipped out of the seat, she landed head-first on the pavement below.

Now the Browns are suing Dollywood for operating in unsafe conditions and for inadequate safety measures in place. The lawsuit is requesting damages in the amount of $475,000 for damages, court costs and discretionary costs associated with the injury. According to the Browns’ lawsuit, Tedi suffered brain, neck and spine injuries as well as a broken jaw and torn ligaments.

Though the injuries were confirmed in the court documents, the Dollywood theme park’s lawyers claim the accident is not the fault of the park, but rather the passenger herself. It was noted that the safety bar cannot be released by anyone midair except for the passenger. Therefore, the lawyers say it is as if Brown jumped from the swing of her own doing. The park officials claim that the rider must “intentionally unlatch” the safety bar to exit the ride’s seat. Therefore, Brown should be held responsible for her own neglect as she intentionally lifted the safety bar before the ride came to a complete stop.

Despite the Dollywood claims that Tedi should be held liable for her actions, the Browns say that is not reasonable. The court records point out that the ride operator never informed passengers of the danger of opening the safety bar too soon and that the weather conditions contributed to Tedi’s inability to get the bar back in place after realizing her mistake. Despite admitting to intentionally opening the bar too soon, the Browns claim Dollywood should be held liable as passengers should not be able to exit the seat before the ride comes to a complete stop.

What do you think about the Dollywood lawsuit? Should Tedi Brown be held responsible for lifting the safety bar too soon, or is Dollywood responsible for operating in unsafe conditions? Do you think the courts will side in the favor of the Browns or Dollywood?

[Image via Dollywood]