Settlement near in Glenwood Caverns lawsuit |

Settlement near in Glenwood Caverns lawsuit

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Linda J. Pappas and the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park have agreed to settle a personal injury lawsuit Pappas filed claiming it’s the park’s fault she rammed someone on the company’s alpine coaster, getting hurt in the process.

A notice of settlement filed in court Nov. 17 indicates the legal action was settled at a Nov. 14 mediation. A motion and order to dismiss the case must be completed and then approved by a judge before the settlement is final.

Pappas, 61, said in a civil complaint that she struck another car stopped on the track and severely injured herself at the park on July 11, 2006. The complaint alleged the park should have been able to warn her someone was stopped on the coaster.

But the park’s owners said Pappas disregarded crucial safety instructions to leave enough room between cars to avoid a collision. They said the instructions are clearly posted at each ride and employees explain them to each guest.

A letter from the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail said Pappas had multiple injuries but was still in pain and undergoing treatment for a shoulder injury more than a year later.

Attorneys for both sides argued in court documents about whether testimony from park visitors in other alpine coaster accidents should be allowed at trial. Pappas’ legal representatives, Leavenworth and Karp, sought depositions with three people who had been in different alpine coaster accidents on different days from New York, Oregon and New Mexico.

The law firm argued that because of “numerous collisions” disclosed by the park, Pappas is entitled to punitive damages. The firm said the three other alpine coaster riders would support Pappas’ claims that the park failed to employ spotters at the locations of the crash and that there was insufficient view of the area ahead of her for Pappas to avoid her collision.

But the park’s lawyers, from Denver-based Graham, Davis and Stubbs, argued the three riders’ testimony would be an irrelevant and misleading waste of time.

They said in a court document that, if the three other alpine coaster riders are allowed to testify, then so should all of the 400,000 people who have ridden the coaster. The park’s representatives said Pappas and her attorney were trying to “cherry-pick” witnesses from “less than a dozen” people that got hurt out of 400,000 people who have ridden the coaster.

The alpine coaster opened in 2005. It has cars on tracks that travel 3,400 feet through trees and down the mountainside while guests control the speed.

Pappas’ attorney said he would not comment on the case or the settlement. Park spokeswoman Mandy Gauldin said the park and its owners also wouldn’t comment.

Pappas’ complaint asked for a judgment against the park and an unspecified sum of less than $100,000.

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