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Do New Hampshire Amusement Parks Provide a Product or a Service?

June 11, 2020

New Hampshire law allows those who are injured by the use of a defective product to bring a personal injury claim against the product’s manufacturer, retailer, supplier, or even sometimes another related party. These suits, called “product liability” lawsuits, sometimes lead to a discussion of what exactly constitutes a product. For example, if a water slide at an amusement park is defective and leads to a user’s injuries, can they file product liability suit against the park? Recently, a state appellate court considered this exact issue in a decision that may shed insight into how New Hampshire courts would handle the same situation.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case was visiting a theme park operated by the defendant. He went down a water slide at the park, but during the course of his ride, he accidentally slipped from a seated position on an inner tube onto his stomach. When he entered the splash pool at the end of the slide, his feet hit the bottom of the pool, causing him to fracture his hip and his pelvis.

The plaintiff sued the defendant under a theory of product liability, claiming that the water slide was a defective product that caused his injuries. The plaintiff argued that he could sue the operator of the park because they were in the water slide’s “chain of distribution.” The defendant asked the court to dismiss this claim, arguing that the doctrine of product liability did not apply because they were not supplying the plaintiff with the product, but instead delivered an amusement “service” to him. As such, the court had to consider this important question: is purchasing a ticket to an amusement park and riding a water slide at an amusement park considered a product or a service? Put another way, were guests to the amusement park buying tickets to the park primarily to use the water slides, or primarily to obtain a service which may involve the use of water slides? If the former, then product liability is appropriate. If the latter, then is it not.

Ultimately, the court concluded it did not have enough information to make a determinative ruling on this specific question and ruled primarily on other grounds. However, this case is important as it highlights the complicated nature of some product liability cases. Because these cases can raise interesting, and often unresolved, questions for the court, it is important that plaintiffs have a skilled advocate on their team who can properly brief the issue and argue it in court, to maximize the plaintiff’s chances of success.

Contact a New Hampshire Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you’ve recently been injured because of a defective product, either while using it in the privacy of your own home or on another person’s property, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation from all of those who put that product into the stream of commerce. New Hampshire products liability lawsuits may be complicated, but they can also offer suffering plaintiffs an important lifeline and help them avoid financial debt in the aftermath of their injuries. To learn more about how you might recover, contact Peter Thompson & Associates today, risk-free, at 800-804-2004. We also handle New Hampshire car accidents, slip and fall claims, and instances of medical malpractice.