The Sizzler: Is a Common Amusement Ride Defective?

The Sizzler is a favorite carnival ride produced by Wisdom Industries. It also seems to have a tendency to kill some children, but neither the company nor the U.S. government appears particularly eager to deal with the matter.

Since  1997, Sizzlers have been involved in at least four other deaths and dozens of injuries in the United States. In June 2007, 25 state inspection chiefs took the unusual step of asked Wisdom  to take immediate measures to prevent “an unacceptable level of ejection risk.”  There was no immediate action taken by Wisdom and, after a 6 year old boy was ejected in Kentucky, the company simply sent out a recommendation that seat belts be added.  The fact that there is only a reported 200 such rides, the failure to carry out a retrofitting and inspection of the rides is surprising.  The ride appears defective in its design in allowing such repeated accidents. Even if these children are not following directions, this would likely fall into the category of foreseeable misuse — which can still lead to liability.

Recent reports, however, show that the federal government has few inspectors to deal with such issues, creating a major gap in protection for the public.   Most inspectors work at home and often arrive after rides in accidents have been dismantled.

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