$150 million lawsuit filed in connection with Vortex accident

A lawsuit filed against the owner of the Vortex and the operators of the North Carolina State Fair.
April 10, 2014 12:09:34 PM PDT
Last fall's tragic State Fair accident is about to take center stage in a $150 million lawsuit.

Several people were injured last October when a ride called the Vortex started unexpectedly as people were getting off of it.

Four people who claim they were injured have filed a lawsuit in Durham County.

Shaw University alum and major donor Willie Gary will represent them.

"They've destroyed his life, his family's life," said Gary.

Gary says life for Anthony and Kisha Gorham, Justen Hunter and Shykema Dempsey will never be the same.

Anthony suffered the most severe injuries with brain and spinal cord injuries, and remains in the hospital unable to work, let alone live normally.

"There's close to a half-a-million dollars in medical bills, and they've only just begun," said Gary. "He's lost sight in one of his eyes, and he may lose sight in the other."

In the early stages of the investigation, Vortex operator Tim Tutterrow was arrested after Wake County Sheriff's detectives concluded that he tampered with safety features.

Like Tutterrow, the ride's owner, Josh Macaroni, was later arrested for three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

"They were trying to rig the rides so they could make more money," said Gary.

The victims are sending a stern and intimidating message by hiring Gary. His website touts the lawyer as Gary "the giant killer." He's won more than 150 cases valued at $1 million each, often against big corporations.

Despite the amount sought, Gary says nothing can compensate for what happened that life-changing night.

The lawsuit is being filed against the owner of the Vortex, Family Attractions and Amusement, and Powers Great American Midways, which is the company that operates the fair for the state.

In a statment Thursday, Joyce Fitzpatrick, representing Family Attractions Amusement, said "As Mr. Gary acknowledged, this was a tragic accident. Our hearts go out to the Gorham family."

"Family Attractions Amusement is a small, family-owned company with an excellent safety record. Despite reports to the contrary, the company does not own or operate the Vortex," he continued - saying the ride is owned by Josh Macaroni, the son of Dominic and Ruby Macaroni, the owners of Family Attractions Amusement.

Fitzpatrick also contested the assertion that the ride was tampered with to make more money. He said a flat fee was paid for bringing the Vortex to the NC State Fair and the fee was paid regardless of how many people rode the ride or how many days it operated.


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