27 June, 2019
A Claimant brought a claim for personal injury after she alleged that she had been injured whilst riding on the "Twist" fairground ride at the Defendant's Amusement Park.
The popular "Twist" ride rotates in one direction whilst the individual car groups rotate in the opposite direction creating seeming "near-misses" with the other cars. The Claimant claimed that during the ride she had been squashed by her "sturdily built" friend. She alleged that the Defendant had failed to stop the ride upon hearing the Claimant's complaints and secondly, that the Defendant had acted negligently by permitting two large women to ride together in one car.
At trial, the Defendant gave clear evidence that whilst the ride is in operation; riders are monitored to ensure none are in distress. If the Claimant had called out, it was confirmed that the ride would have been stopped. Furthermore, the Defendant had not acted in breach of any rules from the HSE or anyone else, they had acted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions at all times. The Defendant gave evidence at trial that it had been suggested to the Claimant prior to the ride commencing that she should ride in a separate car to her friend, but the Claimant had declined to do so.
The Court concluded that as the Claimant had been on the ride before she knew exactly what to expect, the squashing effect was all part of the thrill of the ride. The Judge found that that the defence of volenti non fit injuria was made out and the claim was therefore dismissed.
We are delighted with the Court's finding of volenti non fit injuria which is often very difficult for Defendants to prove. Volenti provides a complete defence to a claim where there has been a voluntary assumption of the risk. In this instance, the Claimant freely chose and paid to go on the ride knowing the nature of the ride and after having observed the ride in motion. A warning sign was also in place at the entrance to the ride confirming that the ride was 'fast and boisterous' and noting that it could cause injury.