Wonderrides Pty Ltd is a theme park in Sydney which is a popular destination during the school holidays. It features a number of thrilling rides which includes the ‘Battlestar Galaxia’, a roller coaster ride which does one of the highest and steepest loops in the world.
In the past year, due to an economic downturn, the sales revenues at the theme park had plummeted. In an internal meeting, senior management had decided that maintenance costs had to be slashed in order to maintain a healthy outlook for their investors. The technical and safety compliance aspects of the park had been maintained by a third party operator, Equipment Wizzes Pty Ltd (hereafter Equipment Wizzes), which had consistently been giving the park a 50% compliance rating in the past five years (which was the basic rating required to keep the park open). This was despite some concerns raised by safety inspectors from Equipment Wizzes with management about some of the safety harnesses and the efficiency of the emergency stop button of the Battlestar Galaxia ride in particular. The safety inspectors were of the view that the time lag between the pressing of the button and the halting of the ride should be shorter than what it was currently.
Genevieve having heard rave reviews about the ride, decided to take her 8 year old child, Brian one fine day during his school holidays. Right after paying for their tickets at the counter, Genevieve had received a phone call informing her that she had lost her job at her firm due to a restructuring. As a result, throughout their exploration of the park, she was very distracted. After queuing for about one hour, they finally boarded the roller coaster car which was part of the ‘Battlestar Galaxia’. As they sat down, Genevieve received an urgent message from one of her colleagues informing her of an opportunity in a different division of the firm and Genevieve was busy replying to the message. She had snuck her phone past the staff, instead of placing it in the safety lockers provided.
At this juncture, an announcement was made by the ride operators on the safety measures to be taken on the ride, which included fastening the shoulder harness seatbelt as well as pulling down the metal bar in front of them as a second safety measure. Genevieve took a quick look at her son to see if he had fastened his shoulder harness but had not double-checked whether he had fastened it properly. She then pulled down the metal bar and waited for the staff manning the ride to check on the various rows of passengers.
Ryan and Lola were the staff on duty that day manning the ride. Ryan had been going through some health issues and had consumed some medication which made him feel rather drowsy. He stood in front of the last row of passengers (where Genevieve and her son were seated) and did a quick glance at whether safety harnesses and metal bars were in place but did not individually check them. Lola meanwhile was largely checking on the front and middle rows of passengers but had assumed that Ryan had checked on the last few rows as he was standing near that section.
Both Ryan and Lola had only been provided half an hour of training on the technical and safety aspects of manning the Battlestar Galaxia ride that morning as the staff in charge of that ride had called in sick that day. During their training, they had noticed an emergency stop button next to the controls unit for the ride and had asked about it but the manager in charge of their training had brushed off the question stating that they would not need to know about it as it was never used before.
The ride commenced and as the roller coaster was ascending to do its first loop, Genevieve tugged on her son’s shoulder harness to ensure he was safe and realised it was loose. She screamed out to the staff operators to stop the ride. On observing that Ryan appeared to be feeling unwell and unable to hear Genevieve’s screams, Lola immediately ran to press the emergency stop button. Upon pressing, the ride continued to ascend and subsequently descend the slope for twenty seconds before it came to a complete halt. In that timeframe, Brian got severely injured as he hit his head on the metal bar in front of him (since the shoulder harness came loose). It subsequently came to light that Brian had a pre-existing blood clot condition which Genevieve had been unaware of, which caused him to suffer a stroke and suffer amnesia and paralysis in his limbs.
On a separate note, due to the sudden halting of the ride, the phone that was in Genevieve’s pocket had fallen into an area within the vicinity of where the ride was located and which was marked as ‘Out of Bounds to the public’. Nolan, a by-stander who had seen the exact location where the phone had fallen, attempted to retrieve the phone for Genevieve. However, as it was getting darker and the lighting was poor in the relevant area, he had failed to notice a ditch in front of the sign marked ‘Out of bounds to the public’ and had fractured his leg when he fell into the ditch.
When Genevieve subsequently went back to the staff manning the counter where the security lockers were located and asked for her belongings, she was informed that one of their staff members had accidentally given her belongings to some other patron. Genevieve has lost at least $1000 in cash which was in her wallet plus some jewellery valued at $3000 which she had taken out right before she went on the ride.
Advise the various parties in this question as to their potential liability under the Tort of Negligence as well as any possible defences available to them.
Genevive and Brian
Genevive’s loss of belongings
Ryan and Lola
You are the Plaintiff for: Brian’s Injury and Genevive’s belongings- prove the 3 elements of negligence
You are the Defendant for Nolan’s injury- state if any defences are available