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Jury says Splash Mountain accident not substantial factor in injury

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Jury says Splash Mountain accident was not a substantial factor in rider's injury

Disneyland was negligent in an accident involving the Splash Mountain ride, but the incident was not a substantial factor in the injury of a rider who sued, a jury has found.

Steven Wilson of Anaheim said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that he fell while trying to evacuate the Splash Mountain plume ride after it became stuck in March, 2010.

The lawsuit claimed that Disneyland employees overloaded the vehicle, causing it to be stuck midway through the ride, and then workers tried to unload the passengers without tying off the vehicle to keep it from moving.

Wilson, a former metal fabricator, asked for about $1.3 million to pay for past and future medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering, according to his attorney, Barry Novack.

The jury Friday found that Disneyland was negligent in the accident but that the fall was not a substantial cause of Wilson's back injury, according to Novack.

According to court documents, Wilson had preexisting back problems and had also aggravated his back after the accident.

The maximum load of the Splash Mountain vehicle was 1,190 pounds, but Wilson and four other family members and friends weighed a combined 1,475 pounds, according to court documents.

“In the process of evacuation, Mr. Wilson hurt his back when it struck the top of the hard seat as he fell back when the log suddenly moved,” Novack said.

Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown declined to discuss the details of the case, saying only, “We are pleased with the verdict.”

The accident was one of 60 injuries on Splash Mountain from 2007 to 2012, ranking it among the top Southern California theme park rides in total injuries, according to a Times analysis of accident reports filed with the state Department of Industrial Relations.

Space Mountain at Disneyland led all rides with 120 injuries in the time period, followed by Ghost Rider at Knott's Berry Farm with 92 and California Screamin' at Disney California Adventure Park with 76, according to the reports.

[For the record, 4:05 p.m., June 23: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of attorney Barry Novack.]

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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