Universal Studios Theme Park has been sued for failing to post warning signs in Spanish. The plaintiff is a 38 year old man from Guatemala who had heart problems and spoke only Spanish. He rode an attraction at the park called “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” It uses animatronics and 3D screens to recreate an expedition by truck through the island which is filled with carnivorous creatures. The ride, opened six months ago, was inspired by the latest versions of King Kong movies. Following his ride, plaintiff stopped to rest on a bench while his wife and son went on another ride. When they returned he had collapsed. He was taken to a hospital where he later died.
A sign at the ride’s entrance states in English only, “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.” The sign further discourages the following folks from going on the ride: people with heart conditions, abnormal blood pressure, and back or neck conditions, and expectant mothers. In addition to the English text, each of the referenced conditions has an accompanying drawing.
Plaintiff’s family claims plaintiff would not have ridden the attraction if he understood the dangers, and the theme park was negligent (careless) for not displaying warning signs in Spanish.
The complaint further alleges, “Universal was aware of the great number of tourists on their premises who do not speak English.” Said a theme park consultant, typically, the more intense the ride is, the more warning signs a ride has. The lawsuit seeks $15,000 for medical and funeral expenses, and pain and suffering.
Per local tourism figures, approximately 8% of Orlando’s 72 million visitors in 2017 came from outside the US. 900,000 visitors came from Mexico, Argentina, and Columbia, all Spanish-speaking countries. Census figures establish that more than a quarter of Florida residents speak a language other than English at home. Officials from Sea World, another Florida attraction, say their signs include a statement in Spanish and Portuguese asking visitors to pose questions if they need assistance. The official blog of Universal Orlando Resort includes Spanish and Portuguese translations.
Disney has not yet filed its Answer (responsive pleading, issued by defendant) to the Complaint (initial pleading, issued by plaintiff).
Are warnings on the sign sufficient to avoid liability if they are in English only and with pictures, or must warnings be in other languages as well? What factors should be reviewed to make that determination?
If other languages are required, what factors should be considered when determining what other anguages are needed?
How important are warning signs when determining whether a party is negligent?
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