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Eighteen people – mostly children – were injured when a swing ride, called the “Zumur” came to an abrupt halt at the Norwalk Oyster Festival.  Initially, it appeared that the ride lost power, but recent reports state there was a malfunction in the ride’s drive assembly.

Preliminary reports also said some of ride-goers had fallen to the ground, but a police investigation indicated that no riders were ejected from the ride or fell from it.  Injuries occurred when the swings collided into each other.  Twelve children and one adult were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

A state police spokesperson said the rides were thoroughly inspected by the Office of the State Fire Marshal prior to the opening of the festival.  The investigation continues and it will take time to learn and evaluate all the facts. The goal is to understand what happened, why and how to prevent it from occurring again.

As the spotlight is once again on the safety of amusement park rides, it is important to look at who is making sure traveling rides are properly maintained, set up and operated.

While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates how amusement rides are manufactured, there is no federal oversight over how they are set up, maintained and operated and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions has always opposed federal oversight.  Its web page on regulations argues that “States are best equipped to regulate [the] amusement park industry” and that there is “No evidence federal oversight would improve on the already excellent safety record of the amusement park industry.”  The problem is that with the job left to that states, rules vary widely.  Connecticut is among few states that have laws regulating amusement rides and requiring inspections before their use.  Six states — Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah — having no oversight at all. This disparity in rules also leads to a major disparity in the number of accidents reported.  For example, California reports thousands of accidents each year because it requires reports whenever a rider seeks medical treatment.

Is the current regulatory structure creating an appearance, but not the reality, of comprehensive oversight of amusement rides?  Building codes seals you may see on rides may not imply safety oversight and regulations.  Don’t recent incidents warrant the need for more safety regulations and inspections?  At a minimum, it should be clearer to riders that there is no government oversight?  Anything less than that is playing with lives.

Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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