Pete Fowler
pfowler@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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November 25, 2008
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Glenwood Caverns' alpine coaster lawsuit entering settlement

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado " Linda J. Pappas and the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, have agreed to settle a personal injury lawsuit Pappas filed claiming it's the park's fault she rammed someone on the company's alpine coaster and got hurt in 2006.

A notice of settlement filed in court Nov. 17 says the legal action was settled at a Nov. 14 mediation. A motion and order to dismiss the case must be completed and then approved by a judge before the settlement is final.

Pappas, 61, said in a civil complaint that she struck another car stopped on the track and severely injured herself at the park on July 11, 2006. The complaint alleged that the park should have been able to warn her someone was stopped on the coaster.

But the park's owners said Pappas disregarded crucial safety instructions to leave enough room between cars to avoid a collision. They said the instructions are clearly posted at each ride and employees explain them to each guest.

A letter from the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail says Pappas had multiple injuries but was still in pain and undergoing treatment for a shoulder injury more than a year later in January.

Attorneys for both sides argued in court documents about whether testimony from park visitors in other alpine coaster accidents should be allowed at trial. Pappas' lawfirm, Leavenworth and Karp, sought depositions with three people who had been in different alpine coaster accidents on different days from New York, Oregon and New Mexico.

The lawfirm argued that because of "numerous collisions" disclosed by the park, Pappas is entitled to punitive damages. The lawfirm said the three other alpine coaster riders would support Pappas' claims that the park failed to employ spotters at the locations of the crash and that there was insufficient view of the area ahead of her for Pappas to avoid her collision.

But the park's lawfirm, Denver-based Graham, Davis and Stubbs, argued that the three riders' testimony would be an irrelevant and misleading waste of time.

The lawfirm said in a court document that if the three other alpine coaster riders are allowed to testify, then so should all of the 400,000 people who have ridden the coaster. He said Pappas and her attorney were trying to "cherry-pick" witnesses from "less than a dozen" people that got hurt out of 400,000 people who have ridden the coaster.

The alpine coaster opened in 2005. It has cars on tracks that travel 3,400 feet through trees and down the mountainside while guests control the speed.

Fosnaught, Pappas' attorney, said he would not comment on the case or the settlement. Park spokeswoman Mandy Gauldin said the park and its owners also wouldn't comment.

Pappas' complaint asked for a judgment against the park and an unspecified amount of money less than $100,000.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

pfowler@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 25, 2008 01:52PM Published Nov 25, 2008 01:52PM Copyright 2008 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.