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Engineer: Six Flags Disregarded Safety of Roller Coaster Riders

DALLAS – The German designer and manufacturer of the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas has testified that Six Flags’ employees displayed “conscious indifference” for the safety of a 52-year-old woman who was thrown from the ride and killed last year when employees failed to properly secure her in her seat.

Gerstlauer Amusement Rides managing director and engineer Siegfried Gerstlauer traveled from Germany to Texas in August to testify about the tragedy, which occurred in July 2013. Mr. Gerstlauer testified under oath in his deposition that Rosa Esparza’s death was the result of gross negligence by Six Flags’ employees. He also testified that the ride’s attendant and operator displayed conscious disregard for Ms. Esparza’s safety.

Specifically, Mr. Gerstlauer said that Six Flags was negligent for:

1) failing to push the car’s restraint bar down “as tight as possible” against Ms. Esparza’s body;

2) failing to properly train and supervise ride operators;

3) failing to ensure that ride operators followed the manufacturer’s instructions;

4) failing to properly perform a “push-pull” test on the lap bar;

5) failing to push the emergency-stop button after observing Ms. Esparza’s restraint bar in improper position; and

6) failing to adequately communicate instructions and dangers to Ms. Esparza.

Mr. Gerstlauer testified that the conduct of the ride attendant and ride operator was not only negligent but also grossly negligent.

In related testimony, Six Flags Chief Corporate Engineer Larry Chickola said under oath that the amusement park added numerous features to the ride after Ms. Esparza’s death, including installing seat belts; relocating the lap bar closer to seat backs; beginning the use of a test seat; changing the shape of lap bar pad; and removing green indicator lights from the coaster, which communicate to attendants and operators whether the restraints are closed. Despite these revisions, Mr. Chickola testified that he believes Six Flags and its employees were blameless in Ms. Esparza’s death. Mr. Chickola also testified that Gerstlauer’s testing of the roller coaster’s restraint system was not up to industry engineering and design standards.

The deposition testimony was revealed as part of a lawsuit filed by The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson in Dallas on behalf of Ms. Esparza’s family.

The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson maintains a reputation for courtroom excellence based on significant verdicts and settlements for clients in high-stakes personal injury cases and business disputes. The firm’s record verdicts and recoveries stem from cases involving trucking and transportation injuries, product liability, construction accidents, commercial plane crashes, explosions and burns caused by gas and electric power utilities, medical negligence, workplace catastrophes and professional negligence and business torts. Visit http://www.flbranson.com to learn more.

For more information about the Six Flags lawsuit, please contact Robert Tharp at 800-559-4534 or robert@androvett.com.

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