Disney Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over Monorail Fatality

Posted on February 5, 2010

The mother of a monorail driver at Disney World who died last July in a crash, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the theme park. The woman says that Disney did not follow its own monorail-safety procedures and that is what killed her 21-year-old son. Her son was in the front of a monorail, moving the car in reverse through track switches that were supposed to move it eventually onto the system’s maintenance bay. But another monorail was backing up over a track switch at the same time and the track switch was never realigned. The train went into reverse and into the resort’s Epcot line and into the young man’s vehicle.

His mother contends it would be safer to have twin controls in the rear cab giving the operator a clear view when he backs up.

While no litigation can bring back her son, it is pointing out some safety violations of the theme park, perhaps preventing it from happening to someone else. Her lawyer says that Disney’s own policy of having drivers stay in the front cab during a track switch is in violation of the parks own training manual that calls for drivers to switch cockpits. The driver of the trail that hit the 21-year-old worker stayed in the front cab of his train during the track switch. To switch cabins involves powering down the front cab and powering up the rear cab which takes several minutes and if passengers are present can slow the unloading process.

OSHA has cited Disney for one “serious” safety violation — Disney failed to use spotters to keep an eye on the back end of any train that is reversing.

Changes have been made. After the wrongful death accident, Disney required monorail operators to switch cockpits before transferring off the Epcot loop, and now an operator cannot move a train without the use of spotters. Our condolences go out to his mother and other family members for their loss, which it appears was a preventable accident that safety guidelines were written to prevent.

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