Robert A. Clifford and Jack J. Casciato, partners at Clifford Law Offices, announced a $52.5 million settlement on behalf of eight young, female acrobats who sustained severe, life altering injuries during an aerial performance with Barnum & Bailey Circus on May 4, 2014 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
The 2014 tragedy made front-page news around the world. The women, aged 18-24 at the time, were suspended from rigging whose carabiner snapped causing the performers and overhead rigging to come crashing down 20 feet. Discovery and investigation revealed that the rigging was improperly rigged and susceptible of failing, which should have been known to those responsible for the rigging and assembly of the overhead act. The performers sustained permanent, life-altering injuries, including two performers being rendered incomplete paraplegics.
The $52.5 million settlement was reached with the ownership and management of the arena where the circus was held. The women in 2016 sued the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, which owns the arena, and SMG, which manages it. Their insurers paid the full settlement amount.
“These young women were world-class performers and acrobats. Each had dedicated their entire lives to their trade which required years of rigorous training.” Casciato said. “This accident took away their careers and passion. The settlement that was reached provides each of these former performers with the solace in knowing each has the financial resources to provide for themselves the care most unfortunately will need for their entire lives. They were injured together and remained a courageous team during each phase of this litigation.”
After the incident, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded circus staff had overloaded a carabiner clip. OSHA cited Feld, owners of the circus, for a “serious” infraction of industry practice and imposed the maximum possible fine, $7,000. “Whether it be rigging an overhead act for a circus performance or on the countless construction job sites that are active every day, safety and OSHA standards simply must be followed. This is an unfortunate but perfect example.” Casciato said. Also, part of the legal team was Zachary Mandell of Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell of Rhode Island.
For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909 (cell).