Disney Discovery Denied In Monorail Death
Eddie FarahJuly 16, 2009 9:52 PM
Lawyers representing the mother of the 21-year-old pilot of a Disney monorail ,who died July 5, have been denied the opportunity to inspect all of the evidence into the death of Austin Wuennenberg.
The evidence would include video from surveillance cameras on the platform at the time of the crash as well as any audio communication or black box data recorders from the platform. That is the location where monorail workers would have been when the command for the pink train was given for it to move into reverse. The pink train crashed into the purple train, piloted by Austin. But Wednesday the petition to inspect the evidence so far was denied by an Orange County judge.
Attorney Chris Searcy had filed a Petition for a Pure Bill of Discovery that allows evidence to be turned over before a lawsuit is filed. Searcy also sought a list of witnesses and employees involved in the early morning operation of the monorail. The concern is that evidence may disappear at some point so Disney has been ordered not to destroy potential evidence in a civil case, which would be against the law.
Every night the monorails are brought into the shop for maintenance. In moving onto beams taking the train into a shop in the back, the monorails are supposed to go to a switch. Insiders say that in order to get to the back, the anti-collision system must be disabled. Instead of heading to the shop in back, the pink train may have gone in the opposite direction to the Transportation and Ticket Center.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration are both conducting investigations which could take up to a year.
Attraction Magazine is reporting that on Wuennenberg’s Facebook page he wrote that he “has a 14 hour shift today” raising the questions about fatigue of the crew.
A man claiming to be the OSHA investigator in the case (complete with his photo and phone number and e-mail) says on the Facebook page, he is interested “if Disney changed any procedures. Some of the other areas I am interested is past accidents, past close calls, issues having to use monorails that are broken, communication issues”.
If a lawsuit is filed on behalf of Christine Wuennenberg, worker’s compensation law in Florida limits compensation to $150,000, but that is for dependants of those injured or killed, a parent would not qualify. The injured has to prove the employer deliberately intended to injure the employee or the employer engaged in conduct that was virtually certain to result in injury and death and failed to warn the employee.
That is an extremely high standard of proof required, even beyond mere negligence. Our condolences go out to the family of this young man who was simply working his way through college. #