(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
In the present case, defendant erroneously argues that Ms. Demers’ voluntary decision to ride the Dinosaur Attraction coupled with the fact that it was strictly for pleasure, disallows recovery under common carrier liability. Defendants’ argument lays heavily in the fact that the Dinosaur Attraction starts and ends in the same location. However, an application of the reasoning in both Elmer and Buckskin Joe’s to the case at hand clearly shows that Plaintiff has properly pled common carrier liability irrespective of destination and intention. Ms. Demers surrendered herself to defendants’ custody and control when she placed herself on the ride, lost her freedom of movement and actions, and was a helpless passenger in the care of defendants. Ms. Demers could not have prevented the incident, nor was she in any way at fault in causing or contributing to her wrongful death.
This example is analogous to a passenger on an airplane. Should that airplane plummet to the ground, the passenger should not be held accountable simply because he voluntarily chose to board that particular airplane. Similarly, Ms. Demers’ decision to ride the Dinosaur Attraction should in no way detract from Defendants’ liability. Defendant had sole possession and power over her once the ride began and should be held accountable under the highest degree of care.
The court in Elmer thoroughly researched this issue. Its well reasoned decision clarifies why amusement rides should be subject to common carrier liability. California should adopt its decision as persuasive authority, especially given California’s broad common carrier statute, discussed below. (See Part 6 of 10.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.