Family Of Woman Who Died, Disney Reach Settlement

(CBS) LOS ANGELES A settlement was reached in a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. by heirs of a woman who alleged that her death in 2000 from a ruptured brain aneurysm was triggered by riding Disneyland's "Indiana Jones Adventure," according to their attorney.

Cristina Moreno of Barcelona, Spain, rode the thrill ride while on her honeymoon and died just over two months later. Her estate sued for wrongful death in September 2001.

The Moreno estate's attorney, Barry Novack, said the settlement was reached Friday. He said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from disclosing the terms.

Disneyland attorney Gary A. Wolensky was not immediately available for comment.

The lawsuit had sought more than $1 million in damages on grounds of common carrier and strict products liability. The woman's medical bills amounted to more than $1 million, Novack said.

According to the suit, the 23-year-old woman complained of a severe headache after riding the Indiana Jones Adventure on June 25, 2000. She was hospitalized that evening after losing consciousness and was found to have brain hemorrhaging. She died Sept. 1, 2000.

Her family's complaint alleged Disney decided to "push the envelope to the extreme" in designing the attraction, creating a ride that is "fast, turbulent, combining the ups and downs of a roller coaster with jarring jumps, drops and unpredictable movements."

Riding the attraction's jeep-style vehicles "shakes and whipsaws riders with such fury that many passengers are forced to seek first aid and in some instances hospitalization," according to the suit. The design has a history of causing injury to riders, causing severe brain bleeding similar to that seen in "shaken-baby syndrome," the complaint alleged.

Attorneys for Disney maintained the attraction was safe and that the woman's death was unrelated to the ride, which opened in March 1995 and is still part of the park's Adventureland. It is based on the "Indiana Jones" films starring Harrison Ford.

Although Disneyland is in Orange County, the suit was filed in Los Angeles County because Disney is headquartered in Burbank, Novack said.

In a hearing last month, Wolensky said changes were made on the ride in May 2002 to make it more reliable and so that it would last longer, not to make it safer in response to Moreno's death.

Novack disputed Wolensky's statements.

"In all my years handling cases against The Disney Co., they've never once admitted they made changes for safety reasons," Novack said during the hearing.

Novack has handled several other cases involving patrons allegedly injured on the Indiana Jones ride.

The case became the subject of significant discussion in the legal community in June 2005, when the California Supreme Court upheld a state appellate court decision regarding Disney's duty of care to Moreno and other riders of the Indiana Jones attraction.

The high court ruled the duty was similar to that owed to passengers on a public bus line.



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