Settlement Reached In Florida Parasailing Accident Lawsuit

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A settlement has been reached in a case over a parasailing accident that happened in 2013 due to which two Indiana teens sustained life-threatening injuries.

The 2 teens, Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild both 17-year-old, were parasailing when their parasail broke loose from a motorboat in Panama City, Florida, in July 2013. The girls were taken into the air by high wind, and into a hotel balcony before they fell hard on top of several parked motor vehicles.

Lawyers for both families say the settlement is confidential but the amount of money is same for both girls.

The defendants in the suit include the parasailing company, the rental company, the tow rope manufacturer and the wholesaler of the tow rope. The condominium where the girls were staying is also part of the settlement.

There have been smaller suits settled in many cases but this suit against Treasure Island Resort is one of the biggest in terms of finance as the company has the deepest pockets.

According to the lawyer of one girl, the money received will assist keep the girls secure for the rest of their lives, although the other lawyer said that it is not a windfall, as the teens face a lifetime of challenges due to serious injuries they sustained in the accident.

Alexis said that she remembers everything and captured the horrifying moments on videotape when the parasail carrying her and Sidney broke free. She added, “I saw the video and I was like, ‘That’s not me’”.

Both girls were swept away in strong winds topping 31 miles.

According to Sidney Good’s lawyer, Wes Pittman, “One of the crew members jokingly said ‘you aren’t afraid of a little lightning, are you?’ And he put his rain coat on”.

Alexis said, “I remember everything up until hitting the building and then landing”.

While coming downward, they struck power lines and crashed in a parking lot. Both girls sustained serious brain injuries from the fall, and to this day face ongoing medical challenges and pain due to the suffering.

Sidney’s family filed suit and on Monday, her father Eric Good learned that there was a settlement.

Wes Pittman, their lawyer said, “The girls are taken care of, as well as money that can take care of them and they have reasonable futures ahead of them”.

Sidney is in cosmetology school and still has medical challenges because she is not fully recovered. According to her doctor, she has very narrow tunnel vision and double vision that is offset meaning she sees one image dropped below the other. Surgery has not succeeded in making it like before.

Sidney said, “I am a little bit angry, but then when I do get angry, I have to think that I am walking, I’m talking, I am alive… because I’m not supposed to be.”

Alexis is attending Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne. Her mother said that she is in constant pain, but sees some positives in the journey, including new regulations for the parasailing industry in Florida. Alexis would like to become a physical therapist in future.

Alexis added, “I’m getting closer every day. I have a brain injury, so, I mean, things are a little off sometimes; people walk up to me, they are like, ‘How are you?’ and I’m like, ‘Do I know you? What do you mean? What’s happening with that?’ But for the most part, everything is good”.

Angie Fairchild said of her daughter, Alexis, “It’s unfortunate that she has to be in pain every day. Nothing is going to be over for her”.

Debi Chalik, a lawyer who is representing the Fairchilds said, “This is not a windfall for Alexis. This is to take care of her basic needs into the future. This is not a lottery; we are going to stretch this as long as we can to take care of her basic needs”.

The payout also served notice and informed to other beachfront properties.

Pittman also said, “Other resorts now, according to what I know, are sitting up and taking notice of this and they are going to be much more attune to their guest safety”.

Due to the serious incident, the girls lobbied to alter the Florida law. Now, Florida parasailing companies must have basic insurance and high wind restrictions for the safety of individuals and to avoid such incidents. One of the issues in this case was the girls were too close to shore to land back in the water. They forced for a “distance from shore” restriction, but that failed to pass.

So everyone for the Spring Break must realize that resorts may be more diligent but safety precautions are recommended to all for parasailing as they are still not in force.

News Source: WTHR