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Disneyland Settles Claim in Fatal Accident

October 06, 2000

ANAHEIM — The family of a tourist killed in a Christmas Eve, 1998, accident at Disneyland settled its claim against the park this week, capping a case that focused the nation's attention on amusement park safety issues and spurred the state's first law regulating the industry.

Terms of the settlement were sealed. An outside expert previously estimated the damages could top $20 million.

Disneyland spokesman Ray Gomez declined comment. The family's lawyer, Wylie Aitken, said only: "The matter has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the family and the company."

The money will go to the family of Luan Phi Dawson, a 33-year-old Duvall, Wash., father and senior testing engineer at Microsoft Corp.

Dawson was killed and his wife was injured after a metal cleat pulled free from the 84-foot tall ship Columbia as it docked. State investigators later said the worker in charge of docking the ship--one of the tamest rides in the park--had been poorly trained. She also was severely injured.

Dawson's wife, Lieu Thuy Vuong, now 45, suffered severe facial injuries in the accident and faces more plastic surgery. The couple's 7-year-old son, Antoine, and her 9-year-old grandson, Andrew, were at the couple's side when the accident occurred.

Newport Beach attorney Jeffrey T. Roberts, a wrongful-death specialist, has estimated that any settlement would be $20 million to $25 million because Disneyland was clearly at fault.

The injured employee, Christine Carpenter, also faces more reconstructive surgery for a severely injured foot, a co-worker said.

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