Skip to Content

Settlement Reached in Tragic Vortex Accident

September 20, 2015 Brain & Spinal Cord Injuries

A North Carolina judge recently approved the settlement agreement resulting from a North Carolina State Fair accident from 2013. The accident involved a ride known as The Vortex, which is owned by Macaroni and Family Attractions Amusement, LLC and operated by an independent ride contractor of the state fair, Timothy Tutterow. As riders were getting off the ride, The Vortex restarted unexpectedly. This resulted in five people between the ages of 14 and 39 becoming seriously injured. Victims suffered significant brain, skull, and spinal injuries. One rider was in a coma for several months after the accident. It was later found that the ride had been tampered with and various safety mechanisms built into the ride were compromised.

The victims filed a $150 million personal injury lawsuit against the operator, the ride owner, and the state fair’s company Powers Great American Midways. In addition, Tutterrow was arrested for three counts of assault with a deadly weapon as was the ride’s owner Josh Macaroni. The men were charged with criminal counts because of their involvement in the tampering of the ride after the fair concluded its inspections. The owner was accused of tampering with an electrical box on the ride before the fair opened. It argued that the “owner installed jump wiring in the electrical box that bypassed safety measures designed to prevent the ride from starting without safety bars in place.” Macaroni had Tutterow assist him when he was tampering with the electrical box.

While the terms have not been released, the settlement agreement between the families and Powers Great American Midways ends the civil litigation against the company. Other settlements were reached with the ride operator and the ride owner. If one is to go off what was requested in the personal injury lawsuits, it is safe to assume the settlement will cover the medical bills and medical care for the victims into the near future or indefinitely in the case of the comatose victim – these future medical expenses are believed to exceed more than $30 million.

This accident, while a tragedy, is an example of the various avenues victims of accidents may pursue. In addition to seeking recovery for immediate medical expenses caused by the accident, one may be entitled to seek future medical expenses if the injuries suffered are debilitating or long-lasting. It also illustrates that one can hold defendants liable for criminal and civil liability for the same incident. In especially egregious instances of behavior, such as the tampering of state fair rides in an effort to make more money, the defendants risked facing jail time for their misdeeds.

Summer is a time for fun, family, and sunshine. There are, however, numerous dangers that exist in many of the activities we all try to enjoy. If you or a loved one has been hurt on such an amusement ride or by the fault or negligence of another, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries. Please contact the experienced attorneys at Wallace Childers PLLC if you need assistance.