Victim’s parents, BR amusement park settle lawsuit

The parents of a Lafayette woman who fell to her death from a roller coaster at Dixie Landin’ three years ago have settled their lawsuit against the Baton Rouge amusement park and the ride’s German manufacturer.

Attorneys involved in the case, however, said they could not discuss the specifics of the settlement because the terms are confidential.

George and Karen Zeno claimed in their suit that Dixie Landin’ failed to properly inspect and maintain the Xtreme roller coaster and failed to secure the locking mechanism necessary to hold their daughter, 21-year-old Lindsay Zeno, in her seat on July 11, 2010.

The suit, filed in the 19th Judicial District Court two weeks after the accident, also contended the park’s equipment was defective, causing the locking mechanism in her seat to fail. Zeno fell 30 feet.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded after a four-month-long probe that it could not pinpoint the precise cause of the accident.

The Xtreme Coaster SC 2000 was inspected May 14, 2010, by its manufacturer — Mauer Sohne — and the National Association of Amusement Park Safety Officials, and again on June 2, 2010, by the Fire Marshal’s Office. No problems were noted during those routine inspections, the Fire Marshal’s Office has said.

Scott Rainwater, an attorney for Dixie Landin’ in the suit, said this week that the roller coaster was idled after the accident but put back into service for the start of the 2011 season. “There have been no incidents,” he said.

Robert Schoenfeld, the Zenos’ attorney, was tightlipped about the financial terms of the settlement. East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office records indicate the case was settled last week.

“Settlements always involve each party being satisfied,” he said. “The case is concluded for a reason.”

Rainwater said the tragic accident was unfortunate and regrettable.

“We wish Mr. and Mrs. Zeno the best in the future,” he said.

The ride was manufactured in 2000 and sold new to Perfect Park Limited in the United Kingdom before Dixie Landin’ purchased it in 2007, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning has said.

Even though the roller coaster met all standards and specifications at the time of its manufacture and installation, Browning required that it undergo precautionary modifications before his office issued a new permit. The modifications included additional maintenance requirements and providing documented stress analyses to certain parts of the ride.

Browning has said there were no eyewitnesses to the accident. Each car on the ride seats a maximum of four people. No one was seated next to Zeno, although there were two people riding in the seats to her back, the fire marshal said.

Ride operators told investigators they specifically recalled checking the lap bar in Zeno’s seat at two checkpoints before the car was put into service and no problems were noted or observed at either point, the Fire Marshal’s Office has said. No one reported seeing Zeno attempt to adjust or manipulate the security bar or its locking mechanisms before the ride started.