The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals today overruled a District Court that ruled the State Fair had no liability in the catastrophic injuries sustained by Sheldon Lewis, 4, when he became trapped beneath a ride at the Louisiana State Fair.
On Nov. 2, 2011, the Pine Belt Multipurpose Community Action Acquisition Agnecy, Inc., a Head Start preschool program in Jonesboro, took children, including Sheldon Lewis, on a field trip to the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport.
The children rode the Twin-Ring Demolition Derby Carnival Ride, and when it ended and the group was exiting, the ride went into motion and Sheldon became trapped between a component of the ride and a rotating platform on the floor of the ride. Initial attempts to rescue Sheldon, including the use of the Jaws of Life, were unsuccessful. He stopped breathing for a prolonged period of time and, as a result, suffered severe brain damage.
Sheldon’s mother and father, Lakhesia Lewis and Sheldon Hallmon, filed suit against Pine Belt, the Lowery Carnival Company that had the contract for the carnival in 2011, the State Fair of Louisiana and Moser Rides, the Italian Company that designed and manufactured the ride.
The State Fair filed a motion for a summary judgement, claiming it could not be held liable for any fault or negligence of Lowery or its employees because it did not hire or train the ride operators, nor have power over Lowery or its employees.
After the district court ruled in favor of the State Fair of Louisiana, Sheldon’s parents appealed the decision to the Second Circuit.
The higher court ruled that as owner/host/promoter of the fair, the State Fair “had a duty to at least ensure that the rides had safety measures in place.