Doug / 04-01-2011 / Theme park accidents

Walt Disney World Monorail Crash Lawsuit Dismissed

According to MSNBC, a lawsuit against Walt Disney World following a deadly monorail crash in July 2009 has been dismissed. The Disney monorail backed into the front of the train driven by Austin Wuennenberg, 21, killing the young man. Christine Wuennenberg, Austin’s mother, filed a lawsuit against Disney in January 2010, claiming the monorail’s manager on duty intentionally concealed the man’s whereabouts and did not inform employees of Austin’s inability to see what was happening.

Wuennenberg claimed that the manager David Gilmore pretended to be in the concourse tower on site when he was actually miles away at a Perkins restaurant, far off the property. Gilmore admitted in a National Transportation Safety Board interview that he was indeed at a Perkins restaurant that night, which left the tower empty and without a proper relay of commands to the monorail drivers.

Austin’s mother claimed that had Gilmore been in the tower, Austin would not have been driving blind and would have been notified that another train was headed on a collision course. She further blamed Disney for its lack of crash test monorail cockpits and no built in frames or bracing to make them withstand collisions.

Disney said the monorail shop panel operator performs the procedure required to move the switch beams and the morning of the accident, the shop operator incorrectly reported the direction of the beams. Disney made staffing changes in the wake of the fatal crash. OSHA fined Disney $44,000 for serious safety violations related to the crash, later lowering the fine to $35,200. Details of the lawsuit dismissal were not made public. However, lawyers for both sides said the lawsuit has been settled, without divulging details.

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