Universal Orlando Resort has finally settled the lawsuit with a tourist who broke his neck on a water slide at Volcano Bay water park in 2019.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the case was settled last month but the exact details of the settlement are still unknown.
In September, a judge ruled that the injured tourist, James Bowen was eligible for punitive damages after suffering an injury on the now-closed attraction, Punga Racers.
“It was the last day of their family vacation in Orlando as they were scheduled to return home to New York the following day. Sadly, however, their vacation ended in tragedy with Mr. Bowen admitted to the hospital, paralyzed from the neck down,” his Orange Circuit Court lawsuit said. “While riding the Punga Racers water slide, Mr. Bowen hit a wall of water as he exited the water slide into the wading pool that caused his neck to violently snap back, leaving him face down in the water and unable to move.”
But the litigations did not stop at Bowen’s case. In fact, his case revealed that scores of guests were experiencing injuries on Volcano Bay’s attractions and brought into question both the safety of the park and Universal’s transparency on the matters.
Lifeguards staffed at the park reported being unwilling to test the attraction and Universal employees felt uncomfortable with it, too.
“They are well aware of the problem at the highest levels,” Bower’s lawyer David Buckner said earlier this year. “Here’s the reality. …If they could not have figured out how to fix it, it was incumbent upon them to shut the ride down because they knew it was dangerous.”
Over the past year, we at Inside the Magic reported that 115 people have reported receiving injuries at Universal’s Volcano Bay and that both Universal and waterslide manufacturer ProSlide were being sued by the insurance company Admiral as it refused to take responsibility for covering the 73 injury claims filed at not just Punga Racers but multiple slides since Volcano Bay opened in 2017.
The Sentinel reports that Bowen was one of at least nine people directly suing Universal for their injuries.
“For them to have this many claims in a short period of time is troubling,” said Orlando attorney Varun Ramnarine, who represented a client suing Universal, told the Sentinel in the story. “It’s a brand-new water park.”
“Not every injury results in a claim … These are just the claims that are reported. Who is to know about the stuff that doesn’t get reported?”
“We take every injury seriously and have a safety-first culture that places the safety of our guests and team members above everything else. When there is an injury of any kind, we immediately begin an investigation and review,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said in a statement in August. “Our process is rigorous and detailed and there are often many opinions as we arrive at a conclusion or work to resolve an issue. We are confident in our process and in the safety of our rides.”
Punga Racers has since been closed and reopened as a different attraction.
Have you ever been to Universal’s Volcano Bay? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!