GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) — The company involved in the Greene County Fair Ferris wheel incident settled a lawsuit last year with a North Carolina family who was seriously hurt in an incident involving a ride malfunction at the North Carolina State Fair.
Court documents show Family Attractions reached a confidential settlement with members of the Gorham family. Another company named in the same lawsuit, Amusements of Rochester, Inc., also settled with the four plaintiffs, paying one of them more than $3 million.
The lawsuit stemmed from a 2013 incident at the North Carolina State Fair. Documents show Kisha and Anthony Gorham, Kisha’s 14-year-old son, and the couple’s niece were trying to get off a ride called the Vortex when it jerked into motion. They were thrown 20-30 feet, hitting the metal platform of the ride.
Their injuries included a broken neck, fractured skull and vertebrae injuries. The family’s attorney, Michael Jones, said Anthony Gorham received some of the most extensive injuries.
Gorham lost sight in his left eye and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him legally incompetent for nearly three years. “They were expecting him to die,” Jones said. “He suffered a lot of severe injuries internally and externally. [He had to learn to] sort of speak [and] walk [again].”
A North Carolina Department of Labor investigation found an employee and the owner’s son, Joshua Macaroni, allegedly tampered with the ride’s safety features to keep it running. Jones said he was extremely surprised to learn another incident involving Family Attractions happened less than three years after the North Carolina one.
“This [The North Carolina incident] very easily could have ended up in a death and you would have thought that with an incident like that you’d say we’re never going to have another incident like this again, it’s just too much,” Jones said.
While state-certified inspectors have said the Ferris wheel at the Greene County Fair had a mechanical failure they have not said what caused it.
In the past the owners of Family Attractions have maintained they did not own the Vortex. They said their son owned the ride. News Channel 11 in Tennessee reached out to Family Attractions and the company’s former attorney today for a comment but have not heard back from them. The North Carolina Department of Labor fined Family Attractions and Joshua Macraoni $56,000 each.