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Orlando, Florida

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Ed Normand
Ed Normand
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Disney Bus Crash: Will Disney Use Another Liability Loophole?

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Another Disney transportation crash today resulted in multiple injuries. According to the Florida Highway Patrol a Disney bus crashed into the rear of a bus operated by the Waldorf Astoria Hotel near the entrance to Epcot Center. Eight riders reported being injured, with at least one serious injury. Also today in Court filings Disney has refused to admit to any fault in the Monorail crash death that killed one of its own employees. The Disney rides and transportation systems in Florida have so many protections and exemptions from the laws that apply to others that one must wonder if the special rules are leading to a rise in injuries and accidents on Disney property.

Disney has even claimed special rules in bus crash cases. Most buses and other forms of public transportation are legally classified as common carriers. This classification is intended to place the operators at the highest duty of care, that of an extremely careful person. The idea behind the law is sound: if you are going to transport the public for profit you must do so with the highest degree of care. Despite this sound law and policy, Disney has contended in past lawsuits that it is not held to such a standard of care for buses that it operates within the park transportation system. Instead it asserts a loophole exists for Disney buses. If the buses are not used outside of the Disney system Disney contends they are not common carriers and therefore legally have a lower standard of care than would be required of a Greyhound bus or taxi for example. Disney also contends that the common carrier rules of safety and care do not apply to its rides in Florida despite the fact that such a standard applies to California Disneyland rides. In the Monorail case Disney is denying liability for any personal injury damages for the death of the operator based on a defense that they are only liable if they knew or intended to cause the death. In other words the Disney defense in that case includes that they are not responsible for personal injury damages and will not admit fault even if they were found negligent. Once again this is a Florida law that is being used by the big parks to protect them from liability. The issue is at what cost does the public pay for this protection?

To compound the problem Florida and Federal laws exempt Disney from reporting most ride injuries to anyone, thereby preventing the public from even learning what the dangers are.

At some point the public needs to ask just how far we will allow the lack of regulation and special rules for big theme parks to escape liability to permeate our Justice system for the benefit of the bottom line profits.