Under Massachusetts law, four key elements of negligence must be proven in order to successfully recover damages in a personal injury case. First, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed her a legally recognized duty. Second, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached that duty by failing to exercise reasonable care. Third, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant actually caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Finally, the plaintiff must prove a legally recognized harm.
Six-year-old Kristine Laborte was severely injured while riding the Timber Mountain Log Ride at the Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the log ride first opened in 1969. Although it was updated in 2013 to incorporate new animatronic characters, the ride itself may be overdue for some updating. In fact, state regulators warned Knott’s Berry Farm about problems with the ride even before Kristine was injured.
Kristine was sitting with her father inside one of the floating logs on July 27, 2014. When the log car reached the bottom of the largest drop, it suddenly stopped, causing Kristine to smash her face against the back of the seat in front of her. She lost consciousness, suffered a broken orbital bone, and has since had vision problems. Alarmingly, there have been as many as nine previous incidents reported between 2000 and 2014 concerning the allegedly dangerous log flume attraction. According to the lawsuit, the ride should have foot braces so small riders will not be forced forward upon reaching the bottom of the drop.
Based on the repeated warnings from state regulators, and the history of accidents involving the ride, Kristine’s parents are seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.