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Equipment Failure Caused Ringling Brothers Circus Accident, Say Investigators

According to state investigators, a metal clip that was supposed to hold 10,000 pounds in weight is the cause of a circus injury accident that sent Ringling Brothers performs plunging at least 20 feet to the ground during a performance. Eight female acrobats and one dancer sustained numerous fractures and other injuries, including internal injuries and head injuries. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is replacing all the metal clips in its show as a cautionary measure.

The 4-inch clip is called a carabinder. The fastener was used to support a frame that suspended the aerialists above ground as a human chandelier during a sequence known as the Medeiros Hair-Hang Act. Now, investigators want to know how and why the fastener failed. The rigging used weighed just 1,500 pounds.

It is possible that the clip, in use by the circus since September, became weak over time. However, human error may have been a factor too. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is also investigating the fall accident.

Aside from the 9 performers, two other people were hospitalized for injuries related to the circus accident. The incident took place before a live audience of about 3,900 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday. No spectators were injured. Free counseling, however, is available witnesses by calling 800-985-5990, which is a disaster distress hotline.

If a product defect was the cause of the circus accident, those injured may have reason to pursue a products liability case against the manufacturer of the carabineer. Depending on other details of what happened and which parties were responsible for taking care of what, there could be grounds for a premises liability claim. The performers should also be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer for work injury benefits.

Circus work can be dangerous work, This is why the correct safety precautions and checks must always be taken, and all equipment used needs to be in proper working condition. Just last year, a Cirque du Soleil performer died in a fall accident and another sustained injuries during a separate fall a few months later.

In Massachusetts, contact our Boston products liability lawyers today.

Circus replacing equipment after aerialists’ plunge, The Boston Globe, May 5, 2014
‘Human chandelier’ falls: 9 performers hurt in Rhode Island circus accident, CNN, May 5, 2014

Cirque du Soleil Accident Leaves Performer Hospitalized, AP/Huffington Post, November 2, 2013

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