The ruling, released Thursday, was a victory for the family of a 23-year-old Spanish woman who suffered a fatal brain injury aboard the Indiana Jones ride during her 2000 honeymoon at Disneyland in southern California.
The court said the family could sue Walt Disney Co. under a state law usually applied to transportation companies. Disney declined to comment on the ruling. The case now returns to Los Angeles Superior Court for trial.
The decision comes days after a 4-year-old boy died of unknown causes after riding Disney's Mission: Space ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. No cause of death has been identified.
The California court ruled that Walt Disney Co. was required to provide vehicles that are "safe and fit for the purposes to which they are put."
Cristina Moreno suffered a brain aneurysm as a result of "violent shaking and stress" she experienced on the ride, her family's lawyer, Barry Novak said. She died in Spain about two months later.
Rob Doughty, vice president for communications at Disneyland resort, commented on the decision: "While we disagree with the decision, it has nothing to do with the safety of our parks. Our commitment to guest safety has been, and continues to be, unwavering."
Novak, who has litigated several brain trauma cases against Disney and other parks, said the opinion means that theme parks "must warn the public that the rides can cause serious injury and even death to people without pre-existing conditions."
Disney argued it has no liability as a transportation provider because its passengers are seeking thrills and pleasure, not trying to reach a destination