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Jury finds Disney liable in part for guest's injury

Walt Disney World may have to pay more than $670,000 to a guest who was injured on the theme park's Grand Prix Raceway ride.

An Orange County Circuit Court jury ruled Jan. 14 that Disney was partly responsible for back injuries to Gustavo Sanchez, who was 43 when he was rear-ended on the Grand Prix Raceway ride in 1995.

Sanchez sued Disney World in 1997, claiming the injury required back surgery and cost him the ability to work.

Disney will consider whether to appeal later this month, Disney spokeswoman Diane Ledder said.

The company admits no fault and has no plans to change the ride, the name of which was recently changed to the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, Ledder said.

The ride consists of miniature gasoline-powered race cars on a paved track. The cars straddle a guide rail that limits steering and prevents drivers from drifting off-track or into other cars. By stepping on a pedal, patrons can accelerate the cars to about 7 mph.

Sanchez testified that as he neared the end of the six-minute ride, he was rear-ended by a car driven by an unidentified boy. He was later taken to the park's first-aid station and then to a hospital by ambulance.

Jurors ruled the unidentified driver deserved 60 percent of the blame and Disney and Sanchez 20 percent each. Under Florida law, Disney may have to pay Sanchez for the other driver's portion.

The total award, covering medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, was $841,535.