BY SEAN FEWSTER
UNTIL yesterday, the darkest moment in the Royal Adelaide Show’s history was the notorious collapse of the Spin Dragon ride in 2000.
The ride, which had been in danger of collapsing for years, came crashing down and left 37 people injured – sparking lengthy legal proceedings against its operators.
The investigation found that 44 out of 48 bolts on a section of the Spin Dragon had broken because of metal fatigue. The Spin Dragon was owned by Wittingslow Amusements, which was found guilty of more than 30 charges of failing to protect the public and its workers.
At the time, Industrial Court Magistrate Richard Hardy said that the accident could have been avoided if proper maintenance had been carried out.
Mr Hardy found the company liable to pay $20,000 to each victim and $147,500 in other penalties, however Wittingslow never paid because the company had been declared insolvent.
Victims later received between $2000 and $400,000 compensation, based on their injuries, following a class-action lawsuit and an out-of-court settlement.
In 2006, there was another accident at the Adelaide Royal Show, involving the Twin Flip ride.
Two girls were injured when a carriage on the Twin Flip came loose and dropped on to a platform, trapping the girls who were lucky to escape serious injury.
Duncan Basheer Hannon managing partner Peter Humphries said the Spin Dragon and yesterday’s situation could be, from a legal perspective, very different.
“There is only a claim to compensation if you can demonstrate that there has been negligence,” he said. “In a case like this, where the girl has fallen from the ride, the questions focus on the directions given by ride staff, the operation of the ride and the harness or restraint holding her.
“If any of those elements can be shown to be inadequate as a result of negligence, then there is a basis for a claim.”
Mr Humphries said that, if a show ride was “inherently dangerous” but operated properly and safely, no claim could arise from an accident.
“However, if the case were that someone has fallen and been injured because a door opened or a restraint did not secure them, that would be a straightforward negligence action,” he said.