Jury awards $3.6 million to woman hurt on roller coaster

Published: Mar. 6, 2006 at 2:32 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2006 at 2:43 PM EST
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RAVENNA, Ohio - A jury has awarded $3.6 million to a Wisconsin woman who was hurt while riding a roller coaster at a northeast Ohio amusement park.

Terry Wang of the Milwaukee area suffered a fractured skull and broken nose in July 2000 when she was hit by something while riding the Villain roller coaster at the former Six Flags Worlds of Adventure in Aurora.

Wang, 44, cried Friday following the verdict in Portage County Common Pleas Court and thanked the jurors who found Six Flags Inc. negligent, said her attorney, Daniel Volkema.

Wang's arms were raised and her eyes closed when she was hit by an item as the coaster went down a hill at 60 mph. Doctors removed a piece of her skull to relieve pressure on the brain and removed bits of bone from the brain.

She still has headaches and numbness in her face and needs reconstructive surgery on her forehead.

Testimony at the trial revealed that employees had warned park officials four times in May and June 2000 that people were throwing rocks at riders. Rocks were on the ground below the Villain near a walkway. Some were found on the ride's catwalk and track.

A supervisor ordered the rocks replaced by mulch, but employees instead covered the rocks with mulch and increased patrols.

Six Flags held that the park was not negligent because Wang knew she was taking a risk by riding a roller coaster. Six Flags attorney Patrick McCaffrey said the company believed Wang was hit by another rider's cell phone.

After Wang was hurt, the park erected a fence between the ride and the walkway, which led to a picnic area.

The walkway and picnic area were closed two years later after a 12-year-old girl's forehead was cut when struck by something while riding the Villain.

The jury award includes $1.1 million for her medical and other expenses and $2.5 million in punitive damages. Volkema said Six Flags had offered $200,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Premier Parks Inc. of Oklahoma City bought the former Geauga Lake Park in 1995 and gave it the Six Flags name in 1999. Premier Parks became Six Flags Inc. in 2000.

The park was sold to Cedar Fair LP in 2004 and renamed Geauga Lake.

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