A victim in a 2015 dust explosion and resulting fire at the Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸) water park is entitled to NT$6.02 million (US$213,504) in compensation from the venue’s proprietors and event organizer Lu Chung-chi (呂忠吉), the Shilin District Court ruled yesterday.
It was the first court decision to find Formosa Fun Coast also liable, as previous rulings had only ordered compensation from Lu, who headed the two companies — Color Play and Juipo International Marketing — that rented the event site at the water park in New Taipei City’s Bali District (八里).
Court documents showed that the plaintiff, a woman surnamed Huang (黃), sustained second and third-degree burns to 43 percent of her body, face and limbs. Her injuries required extensive medical care and rehabilitation, and she experienced mental health issues.
In nine prior suits filed by individual victims, the court had ordered Lu to compensate the claimants, but had not found Formosa Fun Coast liable, saying that the company had only rented out the site, but was not responsible for event safety measures.
In yesterday’s ruling, Huang won a total of NT$6.02 million in compensation from six parties: Lu; Color Play; Juipo International Marketing; Formosa Fun Coast; Chen Hui-ying (陳慧穎), governing board member of Formosa Fun Coast; and Shen Hao-ran (沈浩然), who was responsible for spraying the colored powder.
Chen had represented the water park company in negotiating with Lu for the event, and she signed the agreement with Lu for renting out the venue.
The decision stated that the water park company knew that the rented site was at the far end of the park, with no easy access for vehicles, which delayed ambulances in reaching burn victims in the aftermath of the incident.
Formosa Fun Coast and Lu did not provide adequate medical personnel and safety equipment, had not marked out emergency escape routes and ignored other safety measures stipulated in business regulations for such an event.
The event reportedly sold tickets to more than 6,000 people.
Legal experts said that the ruling could pave the way for other victims and their families to file suits seeking compensation from the water park company.
It was the second major setback for Formosa Fun Coast Co in a week: On Monday, the Taipei High Administrative Court rejected the company’s appeal to resume operations at the park, after government agencies forced it to shut down and revoked its business license.
The powder explosion and fire occurred on June 27, 2015. A total of 508 people were injured and 15 killed in the incident. Most of them were between the ages of 18 and 25.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 281 of the victims suffered burns that covered more than 40 percent of their bodies, including 41 people with burns to more than 80 percent of their bodies.
The Consumers’ Foundation has filed a class-action lawsuit for compensation on behalf of more than 400 victims. The trial is underway at the Shilin District Court.
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