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A Texan Water Park Harbored Brain-Eating Amoeba

When people go to a shopping mall, restaurant, or other public space meant for customers, there is the expectation that you pay your money and, in exchange, will receive a product or a service. Part of that exchange is also that you will be reasonably safe when you undertake your visit. Most people don’t expect to get hurt or die when they go to a place that is asking for money.

However, that is exactly what happened, in bizarre fashion, to Fabrizio Stabile, aged 29, from New Jersey, when he traveled down to Texas and paid his admission to a park. He later died as a result of an illness that was the result of parts of his brain being consumed by bacteria found in algae that were in the water of the park.

Surfing In An Artificial Lagoon

The Parsons Barefoot Ski Ranch Cable Park, also known as BSR Cable Park, is a large property in Waco, Texas that, among other things, has a sizable artificial lagoon with a wave-making mechanism. The waves can be created at various sizes so that beginners can get a feel for learning how to use a surfboard in a safe, controlled environment, while expert surfers can get in practice tackling much bigger, more challenging waves, without necessarily having to fly over to Australia or Hawaii to do so.

However, for Fabrizio Stabile, what he didn’t realize after visiting this park was that he had become infected with a bacteria, specifically an amoeba, known as Naegleria Fowleri. This bacteria can cause a brain infection known as naegleriasis, which is what happens when the bacteria begins to consume neurons and astrocytes—a type of brain cell—within the brain itself.

Under normal circumstances, N. Fowleri only occurs in warm freshwater ponds, lakes, and rivers. So what was it doing in an artificial lagoon, constructed in a park?

According to the lawsuit that is now being undertaken against BSR Cable Park, the park used a blue-green dye to color the water in the lagoon, in an attempt to make the lagoon and its water appear more tropical. The lawsuit contends that the use of the dye created a “pathogen soup” that encouraged the breeding of the N. Fowleri bacteria, even though chlorine was used in the water in an attempt to kill off bacteria.

Since the death of Stabile, the park has since incorporated more aggressive water filtration methods, but for the family of Stabile, of course, this news comes too little, too late. It won’t bring the back the son who just wanted to go down to Texas to try a little bit of surfing by paying some money to practice in a safe environment.

This Is Premises Liability

There is a legal term known as premises liability. It means that the owners of a property—either directly, or by proxy through managers hired for that property—must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that the environment is safe for visitors. If a property fails to take this responsibility seriously, and someone is injured as a result, the injury is caused by negligence, and even if the accident or death is not a criminal act, it can still be answered for, financially, through a lawsuit, in court.

Negligence is what must be proven in court, for a lawsuit to succeed. This means that the owners or managers of a property must have failed, in some capacity, to create a safe environment and that it was a deliberate choice to do so. A homeowner that invites children over to swim in the pool then leaves the children unsupervised, resulting in a drowning, would be considered premises liability. A restaurant owner that sees roaches or rats eating ingredients, but urges to chefs to cook with those ingredients anyway, so as not to waste money, resulting the food poisoning of the customers, is premises liability.

In this case, it could be contended that BSR Cable Park did not do due diligence in studying the effects of the blue-green dye on the water. The addition of the dye was unnecessary and was used only for cosmetic purposes to enhance the appearance of the park. Even if BSR Cable Park did not intend for the dye to cause illness, the fact that it did based on the decision they made means they may be liable.

Get Professional Help

If you or someone you know is injured, or, tragically, dies, as a result of visiting a property and coming to harm, you have legal options. Talk a lawyer experienced in personal injury, slip & falls or wrongful death. They have the knowledge and experience to listen to your story, assess your case, and help you get the resolution you need to ensure the people responsible for the act are made to own up to you for what they have done.

Michael J. Babboni's wide-ranging legal career is based on the strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and have access to effective legal help. Michael began putting his beliefs in action by helping the people of St. Petersburg Florida get what they are owed in civil trials fighting to protect families by making corporations pay, and honor their obligations.

A Texan Water Park Harbored Brain-Eating Amoeba

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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