Split Personality

Ever since high school, my buddies and I have gotten together to watch Packer games. We have a goofy tradition that if someone makes the foolish mistake of jinxing a part of the game, such as by saying a Packer field goal attempt is a “gimme” and it’s miss, a wedgie is forthcoming. One of our buddies still walks a little funny after claiming the Eagles could “never” pick up a 4th and 26 in the 2003 NFC Divisional playoff game.

While wedgies between old buddies are all in good fun, they are no laughing matter for Emma McGuinness.

In October of 2019, McGuinness and her family visited Walt Disney World for a two-week trip to celebrate her 30th birthday. On October 14, she went down the Humunga Kowabunga water slide in the Disney resort’s Typhoon Lagoon water park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Disney’s website describes the ride as a “near-vertical, 5-story drop — in the dark,” descending 214 feet and plunging riders into a pool of water at the end.

Tragically, McGuinness claims she suffered an “injurious wedgie” from going down the slide. She asserts she assumed the appropriate position for riders by having her ankles crossed, “as instructed,” but she became airborne toward the end of the ride and slammed into the slide “which increased the likelihood of her legs becoming uncrossed or otherwise exposing herself to injury.”

As a result, when McGuinness hit the water at the bottom, her swimsuit was forced between her legs and water was “violently forced inside her.” She claims to have experienced severe internal pain, and blood rushed from between her legs. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and was later transported to another hospital to see a specialist for repair of gynecologic injuries. She has purportedly suffered “severe and permanent bodily injury” from the ride.

So, this past autumn, McGuinness and her husband, Edward, sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in the Circuit Court for Orange County, Florida, alleging that Disney knew, or should have known, of the risk of painful “wedgies,” particularly for women. She maintains that Disney “was negligent and breached its duties of reasonable care” in failing to provide protective clothing, such as shorts, for the slide, failing to warn McGuinness and other women of the risks, and other design and safety failures.

“Specifically, when a rider of The Slide reached the bottom of the ride and traveled into the pool of water designed to stop further travel, the force of the water can push loose garments into a person’s anatomy – an event known as a ‘wedgie,’” the suit says. “Because of a woman’s anatomy, the risk of a painful ‘wedgie’ is more common and more serious than it is for a man.”

In addition to her physical injuries, the suit asserts that the incident impacted McGuinness’ mental anguish and resulted in lost earnings. The McGuinnesses are seeking “damages exceeding $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs” for Disney’s negligence. They are suing for compensatory damages and taxable costs and are demanding a jury trial.

Additionally, Edward filed a claim for “loss of consortium.” The complaint reads, “As a direct and proximate result of Disney’s negligence as described above, Edward McGuinness has suffered loss of his wife’s care, comfort, consortium, support and services.”

In 1892, the Harvard football team used what is known as the “flying wedge” in a game against Yale. The move featured teammates locking their arms together and running in a ‘V’ shape in front of the ball carrier. Despite its effectiveness, it was outlawed in 1894 because of its contribution to serious injury.

McGuinness is hoping the same thing happens to the Humunga Kowabunga slide.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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