Two months after the lawsuit was filed last September, all sides attempted to settle the case through mediation. It didn't work, and thus began the court fight.
Lawyers will spend the next several weeks taking more depositions and translating documents from the company in preparation for a late January trial date. The family is seeking more than
But now that some documents have been turned over and witnesses have been questioned, Judge
So far, the case has been punctuated with hearings over how to deal with international laws that restrict depositions from foreign nationals and accusations from the plaintiffs that Gerstlauer's lawyers have dragged their feet with scheduling conflicts.
"Despite the agreeableness of Mr. [
Family doing as well as expected
Branson said Esparza's family continues to heal from their loss. "They're doing the best they can," he said, adding that they would not be talking to the media.
Esparza was thrown about 75 feet from the ride in the early evening of
Following the accident, the ride was immediately shut down before reopening in September after Six Flags' investigation found no mechanical failure was involved. Six Flags added redesigned restraint-bar pads provided by the manufacturer, as well as seat belts, and began providing a coaster seat at the ride's entrance so guests can test whether they fit safely into the cars.
Lawyers for Esparza learned that the park had received, but stored, that test seat from Gerstlauer when the ride was reopened in 2011 following a yearlong
They said the test seat should have immediately been put in place and contend that if it had been available for guests to use, the accident may have been avoided. Gerstlauer's lawyers agree.
"It is inexplicable that they wouldn't have used it," said Broughton, Gerstlauer's lawyer. "It's another test guard. That's the whole purpose of the seat."
"We believe many of our guests appreciate the test seat, which allows them to determine their fit prior to waiting in line," she said. "The safety of our guests is our No. 1 priority and our thoughts and prayers remain with the family."
In the months following the accident, Six Flags corporate executives said attendance and revenue declined at the park.
Lawyers searching for accident cause
The family has sued
Gerstlauer alleges that Six Flags employees failed to properly secure Esparza and to stop the ride when operators thought the restraint bar was not in its proper position. In addition to providing the test seat with a red light indicator, the company also provided seat belts that were not installed until after the accident.
Six Flags alleges the ride was defective and dangerous, and that it followed all the recommended operational and maintenance procedures as spelled out by Gerstlauer, even at the time of the accident.
Since September, the parties have taken seven depositions in the case. Lawyers for Six Flags and Gerstlauer have deposed
A deposition is scheduled next week of a representative of Ride Entertainment Systems, the
Broughton said in court that the company has provided more than 1,500 pages of documents to Six Flags lawyers and more than 43,000 pages of documents to the plaintiff's lawyers.
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