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'Human Error' Deemed Responsible for 2008 LITTLE MERMAID/Adrian Bailey Accident

Back in May 2008, THE LITTLE MERMAID actor Adrian Bailey, a member of the cast's ensemble, fell over 20 feet through an open trap door during a matinee performance.  Bailey subsequently broke both wrists, for which he received surgery.  He reportedly shattered his pelvis among suffering other injuries, as well. At the time, it had been one of the most serious accidents to occur onstage during a performance that Broadway had witnessed. Subsequent law suits ensued, including a products liability case against the Canadian automation company, Niscon, who provided the automation software that allowed the trap-doors on set to be remotely operated. 

Today, BroadwayWorld has learned that the law firm of Duane Morris received a favorable result for Niscon.  According to a spokesperson for the firm, the case's lawyers, Steven Richman and Jonathan Swichar, prevailed on summary judgment for Niscon and the Supreme Court of the State of New York found that Niscon’s automation system was not defective, ruling instead that human error was the reason the door was not cued properly to close, and therefore Niscon could not be held liable. All claims against Niscon have been dismissed.

The case has been going since the end of 2008, and the motion was filed in August 2011, meaning the motion alone took 6 months for a decision. 

Bailey had also filed suit against Disney Theatricals, though no reports on a resolution have been released to date. 

The safety of Broadway productions had not been called into question to such a degree until December 2010, when SPIDER-MAN's Christopher Tierney also fell over 30 feet into the orchestra pit of the Foxwoods Theatre after a safety chord failed to attach properly to his safety gear. It has largely been assumed that human error was also accountable for this tragedy. Tierney sustained a fracture in his skull, a broken scapula, a broken bone close to his elbow, 4 broken ribs, a bruised lung and 3 fractured vertebrae, but was back in the show a few months later in time for its historic opening in June of 2011.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos


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