Francisco Quezada,* like any proud father would, set out to make his daughter’s fifteenth birthday memorable. He wanted his entire family to share a birthday experience that they could all look back on with joy. Frank decided they would all spend a long weekend at a large theme park. When they arrived, the theme park seemed somewhat disorganized; it was as if the park was having difficulty dealing with the surge in customers over the long weekend. Nonetheless, Frank was determined to have a great time with his family celebrating his daughter’s birthday.
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Frank and his daughter were drawn to the park’s centerpiece attraction. Although intimidating, Frank trusted that the ride would be safe for him and his family. He didn’t see any warning signs or rider restrictions that applied to anyone in his family. The stairs to the top of the ride were daunting. But Frank had gone that far to help his daughter have an experience of a lifetime. He wasn’t going to let a long line and a tall climb stop him.
The ride was intended to be ridden by one person at a time. Frank watched his daughter start the ride, then it was his turn. He followed the attendant’s instructions, and in the blink of an eye, he was off. By the time Frank reached the end of the ride, he was screaming and in agonizing pain. The pain he felt in his back and pelvis was debilitating.
Following the incident, Frank was immediately transported by ambulance to a local hospital where they noticed that he had a pelvic injury. Frank had pain to his abdominal wall, legs, pelvis, and even his testicles. Frank was diagnosed with a tear to his right rectus muscle, an acute abdominal injury, and a bruise to his scrotum. He remained at the hospital for a few days, after which he was told he could go home.
After being home for a few more days, the pain became unbearable. Frank’s family transported him to South Miami Hospital where doctors told him that he would need to undergo an open reduction internal fixation because of his pelvic fracture. Frank was prescribed Percocet as a pain reliever following the surgery. Unfortunately, the Percocet irritated his bowel and led to a terrible bout of diverticulitis, which resulted in another hospital admission and surgical procedure.
Frank did his best to overcome his injuries and engage in physical therapy, but he and his family felt him slipping into a depression that required professional help. Frank struggled with the fact that a celebration of life – his daughter’s fifteenth birthday – resulted in a catastrophe that was taking control of his life. Frank became socially isolated and was having difficulty functioning at home with his family and at work.
As a result of his physical injuries, Frank developed a form of erectile dysfunction sometimes caused by traumatic personal injury. He sought the medical care and treatment of a urologist who explained that the pelvic fracture had damaged a nerve resulting in Peyronie’s Disease, which was causing his erectile dysfunction. After further mental health counseling, which gave him the tools to cope with his injuries, Frank knew he would need to take control his life. He decided to have a penile prosthesis which would include the insertion of a penile pump. Fortunately, Frank’s wife stood by his side and with the support of his family and, medical professionals and counselors, Frank was able to save his marriage and his family.
Faced with the prospect of mounting medical bills, an inability to work for a significant amount of time, and excruciating pain, suffering, and mental anguish, Frank made an appointment to see David Sampedro. David would have to file suit against the theme park owner and operator. Frank used to lead an active, independent and vigorous life. After all of this, he found himself using a cane because of continued pain and unsteadiness on his feet that led him to a fear of failing. Through the course of discovery, David found out that other visitors to the theme park had been injured on the same ride. David also discovered that although standing at 6’0” and weighing 245 pounds at the time of his accident, the theme park was aware that the ride was unsafe for individuals weighing more than 150 pounds. David hired experts in amusement park ride construction and development and safety protocols.
After significant litigation and shortly after setting the case for trial, accident attorney David Sampedro was able to resolve the matter for $1,750,000.00. The settlement brought some peace of mind to Frank. He appreciated that David was able to convince the amusement park owner and operator that their carelessness had destroyed Frank’s life. With the funds, Frank was able to pay for the medical care and treatment he so desperately needed, pay for his daughters’ college education, and even buy his family’s first home. While Frank would not look back on this day with joy, the settlement funds did provide him with the security that the owner and operator of the theme park came so close to taking away.
*The party’s names have been changed to protect their identity.