(CN) – A California lawyer suing SeaWorld because he tore a tendon in his left bicep while trying to use the “bungee trampoline” at the San Diego amusement park can discuss gross negligence at trial, a federal judge ruled.
John Wallace says he tore the tendon during his first and only flip on the trampoline, because the SeaWorld employee supervising him didn’t instruct him properly.
Though the employee told him it was safe to flip, the manufacturer’s manual allegedly warns users to never hold onto the bungee cords while doing so.
He claims pro se that the park violated the Permanent Amusement Ride Inspection Program.
“Given the nature of the activity, injuries to arms arising from flipping appear to be an inherent risk,” U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz wrote. “However, as an owner/operator offering this recreational activity, defendant has a duty to provide a reasonably safe facility.”
The judge rejected Busch Entertainment’s claim that Wallace failed to present evidence that the employee’s gross negligence contributed to his injury.
“The procedures were provided to ensure safety of the guests using the equipment,” Lorenz wrote. “Compliance with the procedures was easy to ascertain just by looking at the guest and the equipment. Because the attendant instructed plaintiff he was safe to flip although the lack of compliance with safety procedures would be obvious to anyone familiar with them and the equipment, a jury could reasonably infer either that defendant allowed an untrained person to serve as the attendant or that the attendant simply did not care about the outcome.”
But Wallace cannot claim that he signed an ambiguous waiver, which would prevent the park from using it to fight negligence liability.
“Plaintiff’s claim that he was injured while participating in bungee trampoline jumping and that his injury was caused by defendant’s negligence falls within the unambiguous scope of the release,” Lorenz wrote.
The judge also nixed Wallace’s strict products liability claims. “Plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue whether the dominant purpose of the transaction was to use a product, as opposed to obtain a service,” the 15-page decision states.