SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A woman claiming to have seriously hurt her teeth and jaw during a white-knuckle water ride at Disneyland in California says the theme park’s operators are to blame for failing to maintain the attraction safely.
Maria Watts, 52, of Rancho Cucamonga in Southern California, filed a personal injury complaint against Disneyland International on Thursday in Orange County Superior Court. She says she was in the Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim with her sister and two nephews nearly two years ago when they jumped into a raft for a ride called the Grizzly River Run.
Santa Ana-based attorney Eric Traut filed the lawsuit, which includes claims of general negligence and premises liability.
Traut said Friday his client suffered cracked front teeth and had undergone oral surgery to fix them. She has been seeing an oral surgeon for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJD, a painful condition that restricts the muscles that move the jaw and the joints between the jawbone and skull.
The attorney said during a phone interview that Watts, a married mother of three children, may have to undergo another surgery. Watts waited two years to file the lawsuit to give her time to heal and because her prognosis isn’t complete, according to the attorney.
Disney bills the attraction as a “thrilling whitewater raft adventure that takes you roaring down a California river in the Sierra Nevada mountains.”
But the fun ended for Watts when the rapids flung her raft into a wall and another part of the ride, she claims.
“The impact was NOT as a result of the normal operation of the ride,” Watts says in her lawsuit, and blames Disneyland’s negligence in failing to maintain the attraction for thrill-seekers safely.
The park says the ride is suitable for kids, tweens, teens and adults, but warns riders will get splashed or even soaked on the ride. According to the lawsuit, a Disney representative told Watts that a report revealed one of the two arms designed to catch the raft failed to open when it was supposed to, flinging the raft against the wall. The impact caused the injuries to Watt’s jaw and teeth, she says.
Traut said that Disney has since walked that back and now says it is aware of the incident but not the malfunction.
“I’m assuming they’ll dispute liability,” Traut said, noting a Disney nurse and five other employees went to Watts’ hotel room after the incident to look at her injuries.
The case has been assigned to Judge Theodore Howard. Watts seeks over $25,000 in damages.
Courthouse News has reached out to Disneyland for comment.