LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A judge has set a trial date and settlement deadline in a lawsuit against Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom filed by the family of a 14-year-old girl whose feet were severed on a ride last summer.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Barry Willett scheduled the case for trial on Jan. 5, 2010. Willett also set a Nov. 23, 2009, deadline for attorneys for the family of Kaitlyn Lasitter and the amusement park to mediate a settlement in the case.
Cables on the Superman Tower of Power ride snapped on June 21,
2007, shearing off Kaitlyn's legs. Doctors reattached Kaitlyn's right foot, but she had to have some of her left leg amputated and subsequent surgeries.
Lasitter and her family are suing Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, claiming the park failed to maintain the ride and equipment and ensure riders' safety. In court filings, the amusement park has denied liability in the accident.
Willett expects the trial to last between four and six weeks, which may cause Kaitlyn to miss some school to either watch the trial or testify.
"It may well be that Miss Lasitter is not required to be here for the whole duration of proof," Willett said during a hearing Wednesday.
Willett routinely requires mediation in civil cases. He said meeting the November 2009 deadline is important in this case because if it is settled, the six weeks being held open for the trial can be used for other cases.
The lawsuit has been pending for more than a year. Attorneys for
both the Lasitters and Six Flags agreed that the pretrial work is moving along smoothly.
More than 15,000 pages of documents have been exchanged and the ride has been examined by experts five times, said Jennifer Barbour, an attorney for the Lasitters, who were not in court Wednesday.
John Hanley, who represents Six Flags, said there are 77 more
depositions to take - 35 by the Lasitters and 42 by the amusement park. Six Flags may also seek to add a defendant to the case, Hanley said, declining to say who he was speaking of.
"There's a lot of work left to be done," Hanley said.
A Kentucky Department of Agriculture report released in May placed blame for the accident on a faulty cable and slow response by an amusement park ride operator.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)