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Five Victims of the Ohio State Fair Fire Ball Disaster Speak Out

The attorneys at Rourke & Blumenthal are proud to be a part of the legal team representing the five most severely injured victims of the Ohio State Fair Fire Ball disaster. Specifically, we represent Tamica Gillam Dunlap who continues to bravely recover from her catastrophic injuries that she suffered as a result of the tragic failure of the Fire Ball ride on July 26, 2017. Generally, due to both strategic reasons and confidentiality concerns, the victims and their attorneys have remained quiet while pushing forward in the search of justice. However, due to misleading statements recently made by representatives of the State of the Ohio, the group issued a press release on February 19, 2018. The following is the full press release:

Rust Never Sleeps: Five Victims of the Ohio State Fair Fireball Disaster Speak Out

(Columbus, OH, February 19, 2018) Ohio Governor John Kasich, following the disastrous accident at the State Fair last July, decreed: “We will get to the bottom of this, we will investigate, there will be complete transparency.” Those words from the leader of our state government have proved false. Therefore, the victims of this tragedy are speaking out, determined to reveal the lack of transparency that the State has exhibited.

The Ohio Expositions Commission and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, whose inspectors are responsible for the safety of all rides at the fair, reported last week that the Fireball victims did not blame them for the tragedy. This is false. The victims have always maintained that the State inspectors, among others, are to blame for allowing the heavily corroded, unsafe Fireball ride, to operate.

The Fireball ride was a visible bucket of rust. Excessive rusting resulted in holes in the outside electrical boxes on the gondola arms that held passengers. Even a basic inspection would have revealed the danger this posed to passengers aboard the ride. In addition, the interior rust that ate away at the gondola arms should have been no surprise, as the ride, exposed repeatedly to rain water, was re-assembled hundreds of times. Sadly, the famous album “Rust Never Sleeps” applies to this case. The rust stayed awake, spreading for years, while those responsible for ensuring the ride’s safety slept.

The victims have always alleged that the State is one of the culprits responsible for the catastrophe. However, the State has contributed no money for the settlement, citing Ohio law that immunizes the government from the victims’ claims. The law essentially gives the State a free pass, even though its inspectors failed to adequately do their jobs, with the end result that one person lost his life, while others suffered massive injuries. When the State recently announced this settlement, it did not report that the law “protects” it from having to pay for its negligence, thus creating the false impression that the State was somehow exonerated. Nothing could be further from the truth. The victims want the public to know this.

Ohio law should better protect its citizens. We plan to work tirelessly to change laws that are unjust and allow the State to escape its legal responsibilities. The State must have laws in place that ensure that, never again, will a rust-covered, dangerous ride be allowed to operate at our State Fair. This will be the victims’ legacy: a safer environment for all Ohioans.

We at Rourke & Blumenthal will continue to represent our client Tamica Gillam Dunlap and work with the other attorneys who represent the victims of the Ohio State Fire Ball tragedy to help insure they receive fair compensation, as well as to do everything we can to make sure an incident like this never occurs again in the future. We will continue to push the State of Ohio, corporations, and other businesses to better protect the public.