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Case 6:18-cv-06013 Document 1 Filed 01/05/18 Page 1 of 8

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

___________________________________________

VALENTINE HOLLINGSWORTH, III, as Civ. No. 6:18-cv-06013


representative of the Estate of VALENTINE
BENJAMIN HOLLINGSWORTH, deceased, COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

v.

ROSELAND WAKE PARK, LLC; RIXEN US,


LLC; and RIXEN CABLEWAYS GMBH,

Defendants.

Plaintiff, by his attorneys, as for his complaint against defendants, alleges as follows:

PARTIES

1. Plaintiff is a resident of Dover Massachusetts, is the father of the decedent and

was appointed personal representative of decedent’s estate by the Commonwealth of

Massachusetts Probate Court, Norfolk Division, on March 8, 2017.

2. Upon information and belief, defendant Roseland Wake Park, LLC (“Roseland”)

is a New York Limited Liability Company organized and existing under the laws of the State of

New York with offices located at 5662 Route 64, Canandaigua, New York.

3. Upon information and belief, defendant Rixen US, LLC (“Rixen US”) is a Florida

Limited Liability Company, organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida, with a

principal place of business located at 13015 Roberts Island Road, Orlando, Florida.

4. Upon information and belief, defendant Rixen Cableways, GMBH (“Rixen

Cableways”) is a foreign corporation organized and existing under the laws of Germany, with its

principal place of business located at NeufeldstraBe 9, 85232 Bergkirchen-Gunding, Germany.


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5. Upon information and belief, at all times hereinafter mentioned, defendant

Roseland operated a wake board park at 250 Eastern Boulevard, Canandaigua, New York and

held itself out to the public as an attraction open to riders of all skill levels and ages 5 and above

utilizing a full-size cable wakeboarding system that pulled up to nine riders in a continuous loop

stretching 2100 feet and equipped with obstacles including ramps and jumps.

6. Upon information and belief, the full-size cable wakeboarding system, obstacles,

ramps and jumps utilized by defendant Roseland were manufactured and designed by defendant

Rixen Cableways and purchased from and distributed by defendant Rixen US.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

7. Jurisdiction is proper in this Court pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), because

plaintiff and defendants are citizens of different states or countries and the amount in controversy

exceeds $75,000.

8. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a) because defendant

Roseland conducts substantial business in this District, and all defendants have caused harm to

plaintiff in this District.

JURY DEMAND

9. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b), Plaintiff demands a trial by jury of

all issues in this action so triable of right.

GENERAL FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

10. On September 22, 2016 decedent, Valentine Benjamin Hollingsworth

(“decedent”) a 22-year-old student at Rochester Institute of Technology and a friend, Jacob

James, also a student at RIT, attended ‘college night” at defendant Roseland’s Wakeboarding

Park in Canandaigua, New York.


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11. On such date, decedent and James paid the fee to utilize defendant Roseland’s

full-size cable wakeboarding system.

12. Decedent and his friend did at least one loop round the 2100 foot cable system

without incident.

13. Decedent began another loop with James approximately two positions behind him

observing him around the loop.

14. At approximately 4:15 pm decedent approached a ramp/jump along the north side

of the loop called “funbox”.

15. As decedent approached from the right side of the “funbox” his wakeboard hit the

protrusion on the right side of the obstacle launching him head first into the ramp portion where

his head contacted the ramp.

16. James saw decedent approaching the “funbox” from the right side but looked

away to take a jump. When James looked back in the direction of the “funbox” he did not see

decedent at first but as he continued to be pulled around the loop he saw decedent floating next

to the “funbox”.

17. As James was pulled closer to the “funbox” he saw that decedent was not moving

and was face down in the water. James let go of the cable and began screaming for help.

18. James swam over to decedent and tried unsuccessfully to push him up onto the

ramp of the “funbox”, all the while screaming for help.

19. After crucial minutes passed, an employee of defendant Roseland, Christopher

Bills, exited the building located on the premises and next to the wakeboarding pond and ran

down the dock toward the “funbox” where James was struggling to get decedent’s head out of

the water.


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20. Roseland’s employee Bills then dove into the water and swam over to decedent

and James. Together they removed decedent’s wakeboard and swam decedent back to the dock

where others including defendant Roseland’s employee Kyle Dickman, assisted getting the

unconscious decedent out of the water and began to administer CPR.

21. Emergency medical technicians arrived and took over efforts to revive decedent.

He was transported by ambulance to F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua and was then taken

by Mercy Flight helicopter to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.

22. Decedent was stabilized at Strong Memorial Hospital but experienced severe

brain swelling with resulting increase in his intracranial pressure (ICP) and resulting loss of

perfusion of oxygen to his brain causing further swelling and increases in ICP that was refractory

to various attempted medical interventions.

23. Decedent was pronounced dead on September 24, 2016 with his death caused by a

combination of blunt trauma to his head and inhalation of water into his lungs, resulting in

hypoxia and malignant brain swelling.

CLAIM I

NEGLIGENCE, GROSS NEGLIGENCE AND RECKLESSNESS


AGAINST DEFENDANT ROSELAND

24. Plaintiff repeats and realleges all of the allegations set forth in the preceding

paragraphs.

25. It was foreseeable that a wakeboarder such as decedent utilizing defendant

Roseland’s facility could strike his or her head and become unconscious in the water, and as

such, defendant Roseland had a duty to provide for immediate rescue of such wakeboarders to

prevent them from drowning.


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26. Defendant Roseland was negligent, grossly negligent and acted with reckless

disregard for the safety of its patrons and breached its duty of reasonable care in failing to have

appropriate water safety procedures in place and a lifeguard on duty to immediately respond

when decedent crashed into the “funbox” and lost consciousness.

27. Defendant Roseland’s employee Christopher Bills was negligent, grossly

negligent and reckless in leaving his position as operator of the cable wakeboarding system while

decedent and James were utilizing the system and for failing to continuously observe decedent

and James while they were using the cable wakeboarding system.

28. Defendant Roseland was negligent in using the “funbox” obstacle because it was

unreasonably dangerous as an obstacle due to the protrusion of the rail on the right side of the

obstacle that could be unintentionally contacted while attempting to utilize the ramp on the left

side of the obstacle.

29. Upon information and belief, defendant Roseland also negligently and

inappropriately placed the “funbox” obstacle in such a way to allow a rider to approach it from

the right side and strike the protruding rail while attempting to utilize the ramp portion of the

“funbox”.

30. As a result of the negligence, gross negligence and recklessness of defendant

Roseland and its employees, decedent inhaled water into his lungs and stopped breathing for a

significant period of time resulting in him suffering severe hypoxia that significantly contributed

to his death from malignant brain swelling and caused him to suffer prior to death, causing

damages exceeding the jurisdictional limits required under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).


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CLAIM II

STRICT PRODUCT LIABILITY- DEFECTIVE DESIGN AND FAILURE TO WARN


AGAINST DEFENDANTS RIXEN US, AND RIXEN CABLEWAYS

31. Plaintiff repeats and realleges all of the allegations set forth in the preceding

paragraphs.

32. Upon information and belief, defendant Rixen Cableways designed the “funbox”

obstacle to be utilized with its cable wakeboarding system and as appropriate for beginners and

advanced riders.

33. The “funbox” was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous for its

intended use because the protruding rail on the right side of this device would catch the

wakeboard of any rider approaching the ramp from the right and cause them to collide with the

obstacle.

34. Defendant Rixen Cableways knew or should have known that this protruding rail

represented a serious danger to any rider, and in particular an inexperienced rider, and should

have designed this obstacle without such protrusion.

35. In the alternative, Defendant Rixen Cableways should have warned purchasers

such as defendant Roseland not to place the jump so that the cable would permit riders to

approach the obstacle from the right side and contact the protruding rail.

36. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Rixen Cableway’s defective design

of the “funbox” and/or its failure to warn purchasers of the dangers created by improper

placement of this device, decedent sustained serious injuries that contributed to his death.


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37. As the distributor of the cable wakeboarding system and “funbox” designed and

manufactured by Defendant Rixen Cableways, Defendant Rixen US is liable for the defective

design and failure to warn of the manufacturer.

DAMAGES
PRE-IMPACT TERROR
CONSCIOUS PAIN AND SUFFERING
WRONGFUL DEATH
PUNITIVE DAMAGES

38. Plaintiff repeats and realleges all of the allegations set forth in the preceding

paragraphs.

39. Prior to striking the “funbox” obstacle with his head and being rendered

unconscious, decedent experienced severe terror, fright and fear of imminent death.

40. Upon information and belief, decedent experienced conscious pain and suffering

from injuries inflicted when he struck the “funbox” obstacle.

41. Prior to his death, decedent, was a healthy twenty-two year old man who devoted

himself to the welfare and comfort of his parents and was attending school to earn a degree to

assist him in becoming gainfully employed where he could provide future pecuniary assistance

to his family.

42. Decedent is survived by his father, plaintiff Valentine Hollingsworth, III and his

mother Carol Hollingsworth, as distributees and next of kin.

43. At the time of his death decedent provided valuable services to his parents with an

expectation of providing additional valuable services and pecuniary value to his parents in the

future.

44. Plaintiff has incurred funeral and burial expenses as a result of the death of

decedent.


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45. As a further direct result of the death of decedent, plaintiff and decedent’s mother

have been deprived of the pecuniary value of the services and support of decedent.

46. As a result of the gross negligence and reckless disregard for the safety of patrons

of the Roseland Wakeboard Park by failing to provide appropriate safety procedures and

lifeguards, and the gross negligence and recklessness if its employees supervising the cable

wakeboarding system at the time in failing to directly observe decedent as he was engaged in

wakeboarding at their facility, punitive damages should also be awarded to plaintiff against

defendant Roseland.

47. The sum of the damages suffered by plaintiff and decedent’s mother, Carol

Hollingsworth, as well as by decedent prior to his death exceeds the jurisdictional threshold of 28

U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).

WHEREFORE, plaintiff demands judgment against defendants in a sum sufficient to

compensate the plaintiff, the other distributees, and decedent’s estate for the damages sustained

and punitive damages, together with interest, costs, disbursements, and such other and further

relief as to the Court seems just and proper.

Dated: January 5, 2018


Rochester, New York

FARACI LANGE, LLP

s/Stephen G. Schwarz
Stephen G. Schwarz, Esq.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Office & P.O. Address:
28 E. Main Street, Suite 1100
Rochester, New York 14614
Telephone: (585) 325-5150
Fax: (585) 325-3285
E-mail: sschwarz@faraci.com