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.