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Family Files Lawsuit for Mechanical Bull Injuries

By Renee Nordstrand on September 1, 2019

A woman in Santa Barbara recently filed a lawsuit due to a catastrophic spinal injury she incurred at Santa Maria Fairpark on June 28, 2018.

While the woman and her family were visiting the fairgrounds, she decided to ride a mechanical bull operated by Tortoro Enterprises, Inc. According to the woman, she did not, nor was ever asked, to sign a waiver beforehand. During the ride, she was thrown over the top of the mechanical bull and landed on her neck, suffering a spinal cord injury that turned her into a quadriplegic. Her lawsuit claims she is no longer able to perform the duties of a wife and mother and has suffered “other physical, psychological, and financial losses due to the incident.”

The victim and her family have named three separate defendants in the lawsuit: the 37th District Agricultural Association, because it was negligent in hiring Tortoro Enterprises, Inc.; Tortoro Enterprises, Inc., because it was negligent in the inspection and operation of the bull ride and training its employee on duty at the time; and Galaxy America, because it was partly responsible for the defective design and manufacturing of the ride.

Proper safety precautions must be taken before a company allows anyone to ride a mechanical bull. Remember, this powerful machine is used to train real bull riders, and many people who attempt a mechanical bull ride at a bar or a festival have had a few drinks. The operator is responsible for keeping overly intoxicated patrons from riding at all. According to Mechanical Bull Sales, an online retailer of this product, “Most mechanical bull injuries occur when a rider is thrown over the head of the bull. This comes from poor bull design and poor planning of the riding motion.”

In addition, the bull’s operator is responsible for warning patrons of the inherent risks, as well as how to ride the bull safely and what to do when they are bucked off. Correct falling techniques, as well as a fully inflated air mattress surrounding the bull, should prevent most spinal injuries.

In response to this lawsuit, Santa Maria Fairpark’s CEO issued a statement: “Santa Maria Fairpark officials are aware that a woman has filed a lawsuit against a number of respondents regarding an injury which she said occurred while she was attending an event at the Fairpark in June of 2018. The suit has been forwarded to legal counsel. Upon the advice of counsel, the Fairpark will have no further statement in this matter.”

This cautious phrasing is common, coming from a large corporation in the wake of a serious accident—our legal team at NordstrandBlack PC has seen it many times. Part of the reason so many personal injury claims are filed in Southern California is because negligent companies fail to take action to “make things right” for the victims. Instead, they try to obfuscate their records and hide any role they or their employees played in causing the accident.

Most people, who are injured by an amusement park’s negligence, will try not to make a fuss. They believe that, as human beings, the park’s owners and operators will want to help them become whole again. But this is far from the truth.

If you were injured during a ride, you should call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022. Our Santa Barbara amusement park lawyers know what to do. We handle cases in Oxnard, Camarillo, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Goleta, Isla Vista, Santa Maria, Vandenberg, Santa Ynez, Solvang, and throughout the United States.

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