As a Miramar premises liability attorney, I was interested to see a report about a major incident at Walt Disney World that left about 300 people stuck in cars high above the ground. The Orlando Sentinel reported Dec. 14 that a hard drive failed in the computer system that runs the monorails at around 1 a.m. early on Sunday, Dec. 13. The computer problem cut off power to seven monorail cars, three of which were out of the station with people inside. No injuries were reported, but the Reedy Creek Fire Department used ladders to rescue guests from the high monorail tracks, which a Disney spokesperson said was motivated by customer service concerns. The trains began running again around 4 a.m. and were operational when the park opened Sunday.
It was the third incident involving monorail service at the Magic Kingdom this year. In July, a Disney employee was killed when two of the trains crashed. In the fall, an electrical short shut down parts of the system in an incident that affected 25 people but did not result in any injuries. While nobody was hurt in this latest incident, several park visitors wrote in to television station Central Florida News 13 complaining about the way Disney handled the incident. Because the power was out, there was no air conditioning, they wrote, leaving it hot and muggy inside. One passenger said her driver said not to open the emergency windows in case the glass fell out and onto people below. She also complained that the driver misled her car, saying at first that they were waiting for clearance, and then that they were experiencing minor technical difficulties. Another Disney visitor wrote in to say that his train had a power outage earlier in the day, which stranded him for about 45 minutes.
I am pleased that nobody was seriously hurt, even though the experience sounds hot and stressful and probably kept a lot of kids up past their bedtimes. As a Hollywood premises liability lawyer, I can think of a few ways in which someone could have been injured by the experience. Simply being stuck in a small, hot, humid place for three hours could cause problems for people with certain health conditions, such as people with heart problems or time-sensitive medications. Incorrect instructions, or failure to control an angry crowd, could also lead to injuries from people climbing out of the car or getting involved in fights. Just as Disney has a responsibility to make sure its rides and grounds are safe, it also has a responsibility to prevent incidents that it can reasonably anticipate, which may include problems with out-of-control guests. Failure to do that could lead to a tragedy and expose Disney to a premises liability lawsuit.
Under Florida law, all businesses and property operators — even the largest and most powerful — have a duty to remove hazards, or at least warn visitors of a hazard they cannot remove. This includes every type of hazard, from wet floors to stairways without handrails to violent crime that can easily be anticipated. At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we represent people who were seriously hurt because a Florida property operator, private or public, failed in that duty. Our North Miami slip and fall attorneys help these clients show that the property operator’s negligence is directly responsible for their injuries, which can include serious head and spinal damage, back injuries and more. In a lawsuit, victims can win all of the money they need to pay accident-related medical bills, make up for income lost to the accident and fully compensate them for their pain and anguish.
If you were hurt through no fault of your own on someone else’s property, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn right away to learn more about your legal rights and options. To set up a free, confidential case evaluation, please contact us through our Web site or call our main office in Broward County at (954) 431-8100 today.