IPE, City of Armstrong face lawsuit over alleged amusement ride injury

Thrill seekers ride the slingshot at Country Thunder near Craven, Sask.
Thrill seekers ride the slingshot at Country Thunder near Craven, Sask. Jonathan Guignard / Global News

Two amusement ride companies, the City of Armstrong and the Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) are vigorously defending themselves against allegations of negligence after a Kamloops woman claimed she suffered injuries in an amusement park incident at the annual fair.

Earlier this year, Shawna Marie Palmer launched court action against the city, the annual exhibition, West Coast Amusements, Thrill Masters Inc. and two unnamed ride operators.

Palmer’s suit said she rode the Slingshot three times at the IPE in September 2018 and “on the third ride the seating cage hit hard on the ground” allegedly leaving Palmer with a range of health impacts including concussion, dizziness and back and neck pain.

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The Thrill Masters website advertises the Slingshot as a “heart jolting, ultimate thrill ride” featuring a capsule, where riders are strapped in, hanging between 165 foot towers.

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The lawsuit said the ride has “a cage seating two people attached to cables that shoots the cage up in the air and then bounces up and down.”

In court documents, Palmer alleges due to the incident she “has been less able to manage household chores,” faces “permanent physical disability” and has lost out on potential earnings as a result.

She is seeking compensation for health care costs, court costs and other damages. The lawsuit does not name a particular dollar figure sought.

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However, the defendants are strongly denying any wrongdoing in this case and questioning Palmer’s account of the incident.

In court documents, West Coast Amusements and Thrill Masters deny allegations that they operated the ride in question and claim the incident Palmer’s suit described didn’t happen “as alleged, or at all.”

According to documents, none of the four named defendants believe Palmer suffered injuries or damages.

The defendants said if she was injured or faced added expenses it was as a result of her own negligence or the the negligence of the other parties named in the suit.

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On this argument, the amusement companies have lined up together against the City of Armstrong and the IPE with the two groups pointing the finger at each other.

The amusement companies said there was a “reasonable system of maintenance” for the ride which was “implemented properly” and “the Slingshot was operated reasonably safely and non-negligently.”

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Meanwhile, the city and IPE said, in court documents, they did not own, operate or have control over the ride.

On its website, Thrill Masters said “safety is our number one priority. We have never had a major incident during the operation of our equipment.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

When reached by Global News, both the IPE and Thrill Masters declined to speak further to the ongoing case. The other parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.