Thursday, March 23, 2000

Kings Island not liable in attack




BY DAVID ECK
Enquirer Contributor

        LEBANON — A Warren County jury on Wednesday found Paramount's Kings Island was not negligent in a 1998 attack upon two teen-age visitors.

        Maureen Weincouff and Brandon Grutzmacher sued the Mason amusement park after being assaulted by a group of African-Americans. They say the park security was inadequate.

        They sought $1.04 million in damages. But their medical bills totaled less $500.

        “We're pleased that the jury upheld the actions of Paramount's Kings Island's security team,” said Kent Wellington, the park's attorney.

        He acknowledged the teens were assaulted, but said that the park was not responsible.

        The families of Ms. Weincouff, 18, and Mr. Grutzmacher, 19, maintain that the teens did nothing to provoke the attack and that it was racially motivated.

        “That's what they (alleged attackers) said right before they beat them up,” said Theodore Froncek, attorney for the families.

        The August 1998 incident occurred just outside the park's main gate. Ms. Weincouff said several people surrounded her and Mr. Grutzmacher and yelled at them. Some allegedly then punched Mr. Grutzmacher, and pulled Ms. Weincouff's hair and burned her with a cigarette.

        Jeff Sutton, a park patron who saw the incident, said that the groups were yelling and then started fighting. He said he saw a cut lip on Mr. Grutzmacher, but no visible injuries on Ms. Weincouff.

        The families say that the attackers should have been arrested and that the park did not have proper security.

        “We want the public to know that the police at Paramount work for Paramount, not for you,” said Jerry Rose, Ms. Weincouff's stepfather. “That's why I believe they didn't make the arrests because they didn't want the bad publicity.”

        They said they tried to settle with the park, but Paramount's Kings Island insisted that a settlement include a condition that the families not be allowed to talk publicly about the incident.

        Mr. Wellington said he could not comment on settlement attempts.

        The families were disappointed in the jury's verdict.

        “I just feel like they got away with it. Money talks. I'm shocked,” said Kendra Grutzmacher, Brandon's mom. ”The little guy has no chance. I know that now.”

       



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