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Injured on Magic Mountain Roller Coaster : Torrance Couple Win $151,000 Verdict

September 05, 1985|JANET RAE-DUPREE | Times Staff Writer

A Torrance couple injured when a roller coaster malfunctioned in 1982 have won a $151,000 judgment against Magic Mountain amusement park.

During a two-week trial, attorneys for the amusement park admitted liability for injuries to Alfred Hanson, 65, and his wife, Joan, 62, who were hurt while riding the Mountain Express on Oct. 17, 1982. Although liability was not at issue, the case went to trial so a jury could decide what the Hansons should receive for their injuries, said Judge Bruce J. Sottile.

According to testimony, the car the Hansons were riding in stopped near the crest of a high section of the ride when the roller coaster, which has since been removed from the park, malfunctioned. As employees attempted to repair the machine, the car began to slide back down the tracks before suddenly jerking forward and continuing upward.

Alfred Hanson, who had turned toward the back of his car to calm a friend behind him, suffered a ruptured disk during the car's snapping movement, requiring surgery to fuse vertebrae in his back, doctors testified. He continues to suffer constant pain from the injury, they said.

Joan Hanson complained of neck pain for several weeks but did not have any permanent injury. Two other people in the car with the Hansons did not sue.

John Denove, attorney for the Hansons, asked the jury during closing arguments to return a $675,000 verdict for expenses and suffering caused by Alfred Hanson's injuries and his loss of income from part-time carpentry work. He also asked for a $6,000 verdict for expenses and suffering caused by Joan Hanson's injuries.

The San Fernando Superior Court jury deliberated for a day before returning a verdict of $150,000 for Alfred Hanson and $1,000 for Joan Hanson.

"I thought it was a low verdict, " Denove said, and he said the Hansons were disappointed. They could not be reached for comment.

The attorney for Magic Mountain, Michael Lyden, said the attraction has not decided whether to appeal the jury's award. Magic Mountain had offered before the trial to settle for $95,000, Denove said.

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