38-year-old Jose Calderon Arana suffered a fatal heart attack two years ago after taking the “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” ride at Universal Orlando Resort. He had heart problems, didn’t speak or read English, and now his family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing that Universal was negligent by not displaying warning signs in Spanish, since it knew that many tourist were non-English speakers.
Skull Island employs animatronics and 3D screens to simulate a truck expedition through the monster-filled island depicted in the “King Kong” movies. (If those icky giant bugs are on the ride, I might have a heart attack.) A very large sign at the entrance says, in English, “Warning! This ride is an expedition through the rough terrain of King Kong’s natural habitat. The movement of the truck is dynamic with sudden accelerations, dramatic tilting and jarring actions.” It goes on to warn that people with heart conditions or abnormal blood pressure, back or neck conditions, and expectant mothers shouldn’t go on the ride. Graphics accompany the warnings:
I was going to make this an ethics quiz, but come ON. Universal’s warnings were extensive, obvious and beyond missing. Those traveling or living in a nation where they do not speak the language are on notice that they need to be wary and seek help when necessary. Those illustrations are clear, and should be an acceptable substitute for translations that would eventually have to be bigger than King Kong, once every non-English speaker demanded that their native tongue be included, from Erdu to Navaho.
This is a terrible law suit. Arana’s death was tragic, but he obviously was responsible and assumed the risk. If you don’t know what a big red “WARNING!” looks like in any locale you’re traveling in, or do know but choose to ignore it (as I strongly believe was the case here), you are 100% responsible for your fate.
I hope, if this lawsuit gets to trial, the Universal attorneys bring that sign right into court.
12 thoughts on “The Killer Ride”
We have audible bus announcements in four languages – English, Spanish, Cantonese (someone said to me, seriously, “Isn’t it awful? They’ve switched to Mandarin,” which turned out to be wrong, which was a relief because I didn’t want to learn to ignore yet another group of sounds) and Tagalog or Russian, depending on the route and the age of the bus – none of which are wholly comprehensible. The subway station signs are only in English, and placed so that you have to sit in special, designated secret, areas of different cars in order to read them. Thus are our touring tourists confounded to the point of taking taxis. It’s all a scam, obviously.
Wonder how many millions Arana’s family is going to get after the shill who put them on to the hot deal in the first place and the lawyers from Groucho’s lost (possibly strangled) radio show — Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel — get their cuts.
The purpose of pictograms are to avoid the problem of language barriers.
If this suit is successful the only option is to deny entrance to anyone that cannot affirmatively state they understand the risks and all the pictogram signage firms will no longer be needed.
I’m annoyed everyone has to pay the extra costs for people determined to be foolish and then suing others.
Very true. Reminds of the recurring contractor vs. full-time employee issue at my previous job. See https://corporate.findlaw.com/human-resources/vizcaino-v-microsoft-raises-the-stakes-on-worker-classification.html for reference.
Contractors used to have a very sweet deal and were treated as employees for everything except benefits. Guess what? Someone complained, sued Microsoft and now contractors were now forced to be treated differently from employees in clear ways. No more long-term contracting, after 18 months you’re out, and need to cool down for 6 months before being rehired. Morale events, team building exercises, strategy meetings… well, tough luck, only employees are allowed at those. In my decade over there I didn’t meet a single contractor who was happy about the new system.
Even more fun is that this had repercussions all over the tech industry (see https://qz.com/1494111/googles-caste-system-is-bad-for-workers-and-bad-for-google-too/ for more recent experiences at Google).
Some days I think we should have a separate legal system for the grownups…
Your analysis, Jack, is of course correct. Any adult seeing obvious warning signs should automatically be expected to have assumed the responsibility for either ignoring or comprehending (getting help with that, if necessary) the messages offered. Still, it could be helpful for the defense to get a deposition describing Arana’s visit prior to taking the Kong ride. It’s an impressive ride, but not the “roughest”, either physically or visually, in the park (my 3-1/2 yr old granddaughter rode it). If he had ridden certain other rides before this one, he would have had a good idea of what to expect, and there would be even less of an excuse to lay blame on others, or even claim that the ride caused his death.
It’s my favorite ride, and even my wife, who’s not generally a fan of this type, wanted a repeat ride, but it does have some “ickies”, Jack, so you might want to avoid it 😉
I want to ride and I have a heart condition, I understand English but I also understand pictograms which are international. If I choose to ride it is my own damn fault. But I love a good scare and too die having fun that better. Oh well, I am now going to have my traditional New Years breakfast, went to mass last night to get out of way, so I could get it out of way. My New Years breakfast creamed beef over buttermilk biscuits, eggs scrambled with cheese , peppers , onions, and bacon, home fried potatoes with a 5 spice blend, Coffee, mimosa to use up last nights champange, now if my cardiologist saw this he would be scared, oh and I will finish off with Kaisersharmm, a very decadent pack cake dish I have been marinating the fruit in Brandy for two days. If I survive breakfast. I am not suing my cardiologist for not warning me to go off my medical diet for Holliday I eat this way on 6 holidays a year including my birthday, the risk is mine! Foolish but I do not care if you can’t live a little, life is not worth living! I want when I go to have a smile on my face! Sounds like this guy may have felt the same way! Happy New Year All! Hey Jack my email didn’t load on this message automatically like normal have you seen my bleeding heart posts on face book, I may not be completely liberal but I am agreeing with them on some issues. Course, you would not block me! But the again. The right doesn’t like me because I am to liberal, the Left doesn’t like me cause I am to conservative. I know how Linda Rondstant felt.
One of the things I have noticed about suits such as this one…the pe3ople filing the suit rarely, if ever think beyond lining their own pockets. When these jackals win, Universal will be forced to put up sign in every known human language, on every ride, to avoid future suits. They might wind up closing down.
I haven’t seen anything here telling me where the deceased hailed from. Is he –oops! was he — touring from a non-English speaking country or did he live in the US. If the latter, and he still did not understand English, then he has no gripe.
AM, he (or his family) has no gripe, regardless. If he was from Madrid on a Tourist Visa, he would understand the International symbols. My guess is that he would have overstayed his tourist Visa. Why not? Everybody else does.
I THINK he was a tourist, not a citizen. That was my assumption.
The odds would be against you, even if we only take Spanish speakers into account.
It is such a sad state of our state. If I went on a ride in Germany with a lot a red sign warnings in German with an exclamation points, I do so at my risk.