Coming as no great surprise, HUSS, the maker of the Timber Tower at Dollywood, is seeking dismissal of the park’s $500,000 lawsuit according to a report from timesnews.net. Dollywood has been experiencing nothing but problems with the ride since its opening nearly six years ago, including malfunctions and mechanical failures which have led to extensive downtime. This led to the park closing the ride in late 2010 due to “contract disputes,” and the ride has remained close ever since.
In early October, The Mountain Press revealed that Dollywood was suing HUSS Park and Attractions (HPA) and HUSS Parts and Services (HPS), the companies responsible for building and maintaining the ride, for $500,000 for “breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence.” Dollywood was displeased at being continually charged for a ride which had never worked properly to begin with and had numerous repeat problems, something HUSS apparently did not feel responsible for. Costing the park $2.2 million for the ride plus an additional $2.4 million for site preparations, the ride has been down far more than it has been up.
After the rides completion in March 2006, it only took a few months before the ride started experience problems and malfunctions. In October 2006, however, HUSS Maschinefabrik filed for insolvency and was taken over by HUSS Park Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, according to The Mountain Press. Maintenance was performed by HUSS in January 2007 after negotiating a new contract with Dollywood. Again, within just a few months, by April, the ride was experiencing new problems, which led to the June 17 incident that year which left 38 riders stranded at the top of the tower. Dollywood then had to replace the ride’s main hydraulic pump and the circulation pump, in September and November 2007 respectively. Later, in June 2008, after just over two years of operation, Dollywood had to replace the gondola motor drive, and that year the ride was down for 627 operating hours.
According to timesnews.net, the lawsuit moved to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville in December, and the motion to dismiss it was filed at the end of December. HPA and HPS requested to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that since they are not successors to the original company that built the ride and made the contract with Dollywood, they are not liable or responsible for the claims.
The original contract, signed with HUSS Maschinenfabrik, was signed in June 2005, with a one-year limited warranty on the structure and rides operation. After filing for insolvency in October 2006, HPA and HPS took over their assets, but according to Tennessee law, “when a corporation purchases the assets of another corportation, the purchaser is not automatically liable for the obligations of the seller,” as reported by timesnews.net. As a result, HPA and HPS do not feel they are liable, though it seems Dollywood may argue that even after HPA and HPS did further work on the ride after this, it has still not operated properly, making them at least partially responsible. No trial date has yet been set.