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Allegheny County, PA

This litigation stemmed from the ________ collapse of a wooden pavilion covering a ride at the defendant, Kennywood Park, Co., an amusement park located in West Milfflin, Pennsylvania. The builder of the pavilion was also named as a defendant in the case. The plaintiff was the estate of a 29-year-old woman who sustained fatal crush injuries as a result of the collapse. The plaintiff alleged that the pavilion was negligently constructed without appropriate construction plans, inspections or permits. The plaintiff sought punitive, as well as compensatory damages. The defendants maintained that the roof was built within industry standards and that its collapse was an "Act of God" caused by tornado-like winds. The case was reverse bifurcated and previously tried on damages only with an award of $________ to the plaintiff.

The decedent was enjoying an evening at the park with her family on May 31, ________. While her relatives were waiting in line for a ride, the decedent headed back to a locker to get a book. The park had just announced that the rides would be closing due to an approaching storm. At approximately 7:00 p.m. the decedent passed under a wooden pavilion covering the park’s "Whip" ride. The "Whip" opened in ________ and was comprised of 16 cars that traveled an oblong track and "whipped" around the curves. The ride was moved to the "Lost Kennywood" section of the park in ________, the year that the sheltering 40 x ________ foot pavilion was built around it.

High winds ripped through the park on the night in question and the pavilion covering the "Whip" ride collapsed. The decedent was fatally crushed between the collapsed roof and a wrought iron fence. The decedent was employed part-time at a local bank at the time of her death.

The plaintiff maintained that winds of the force present on the day of the accident were foreseeable and that the pavilion roof should have been built to withstand such force. The plaintiff’s experts reported that the defendants failed to use technical construction documents, failed to have the pavilion inspected by a qualified engineer and failed to obtain the required building permits. The plaintiff’s expert contended that the conceptual drawings used to construct the structure called for eight-inch by eight-inch columns; however, only six-inch by six-inch columns were actually used. The plaintiff’s structural engineer opined that the construction of the roof allowed wind force to build up underneath the trusses and create instability leading to the collapse.

The defense argued that the pavilion roof was subjected winds in excess of 1mph during a "microburst" windstorm which no roof could have withstood. The defense contended that the area was subjected to a 1year storm with twice the amount of wind speed required to be withstood by structures under applicable building permits. The defendants stressed that the storm caused extensive damage including destruction of brick homes, concrete walls and uprooting of trees in the West Mifflin area. The defendant, Kennywood Parks Company, also argued that it relied on the expertise of the co-defendant builder in constructing and inspecting the pavilion.

The case settled prior to a liability trial for a total of $________. The builder agreed to pay $________ of the settlement and Kennywood Park Company agreed to pay $________.

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