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Searcy Denney Law Firm Cites Workplace Safety Violations
West Palm Beach, Fl. – (January 26, 2010)– South Florida law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA (Searcy Denney) has filed a wrongful death suit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts on behalf of the mother of Austin Wuennenberg, a 21-year old college student who was killed while operating a monorail during his night shift at Walt Disney World.
The suit, filed in Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Orange County, Florida, alleges that Disney engaged in reckless and intentional conduct, resulting in the death of an employee. In addition, the suit alleges the company failed to follow its own policies and procedures with respect to safe operation of its monorail transit system.
On the night of July 5, 2009, Austin Wuennenberg was operating a Walt Disney World monorail car when another car failed to switch to an alternative track. It crashed into Wuennenberg’s car, crushing the cockpit with him in it.
The suit against Walt Disney World alleges the company’s late-night safety procedure policy was the primary cause of the crash.
“Though Walt Disney employs a sophisticated electronic safety system, it is disabled late at night when trains switch to an express line in order to return cars to the monorail shop for the night,” said Christian Searcy of the Searcy Denney law firm and lead counsel on the case. “Night shifts are the most dangerous for monorail operators because, with the electronic system disabled, the responsibility is left totally to other employees to visually confirm that the correct switch has been activated and that all lines are clear.”
According to witness reports, the on-duty command center official was off the premises. Nevertheless, the monorail operator was instructed to backup his monorail over the switch onto the Magic Kingdom line. However, that switch had not been thrown thus causing the crash.
“Walt Disney was fully aware prior to the July 5 accident that any collision between two monorails was virtually certain to result in serious injury or death to the occupants riding in the cockpit,” according to Brian Denney of the Searcy Denney law firm. “For this reason, they implemented an electronic safety system designed to prevent two monorails from colliding with one another. However, due to the company’s disregard for safety protocol, this system was routinely overridden, resulting in the death of a young employee.”
In December 2009, Disney had been fined $44,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for breaches contributing to the July 5 death of Wuennenberg, as well as other workplace violations. The fine has been reduced to $35,200.
As a result of the crash, Searcy Denney has accelerated an investigation into claims stemming from Wuennenberg’s death. If you have any information on workplace violations at Walt Disney World, please call Chris Searcy or Brian Denney at 1-800-780-8607 or visit www.searcylaw.com.
About Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA:
A nationally recognized trial law firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A. is committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people injured through negligence, deceit and abuse of power. Over the past 40 years, the firm has represented clients in courtrooms throughout Florida and across the nation.