Theater responds to four civil suits
Dixie Stampede has filed responses to four civil suits filed on behalf of former child performers which allege that the children were molested by a former employee of the company.
The response filed by defense attorneys William R. Seale and Preston Pierce denies the allegations made by these four families saying that “the actions or omissions of Dixie Stampede were neither the actual, legal, nor proximate cause of the Plaintiff’s alleged injuries,” according to the answer filed with the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office on December 1.
A total of four separate lawsuits have been filed alleging similar incidents, each represented by Knoxville law firm Burroughs and Johnson. Combined demands from the four lawsuits total more than $60 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
The alleged victims in each of the lawsuits were all minors at the time of the alleged incidents, ranging in age from seven to 10 years old.
In incidents dating back to November 2003, each lawsuit states that an employee of the company “forcibly placed his hands on (the plaintiff’s) body” despite protests from the individuals. The accused employee is Armando Martinez Gonzales. Both Gonzales and Dixie Stampede are defendants in the case.
These allegations have been denied without elaboration.
Additionally, the lawsuits charge Dixie Stampede with negligence for failing to act to prevent foreseeable injury to the individuals. They allege that Dixie Stampede had received prior complaints about inappropriate behavior committed by Gonzales.
The Defendants’ answer says, however, that “Dixie Stampede had no actual or constructive knowledge of any alleged sexually-related behavior committed by Gonzales as alleged in the complaint.”
The lawsuit charges Dixie Stampede with negligence for policies and procedures which caused the alleged victims parents to be unable to supervise their children. “Dixie Stampede absolutely mandated that (the plaintiff), and other parents, remain in the break room the entire time (the plaintiff), and the other child performers, were out of the break room with Dixie Stampede’s agents, servants and employees,” according to the first lawsuit.
The Defendants’ answer denies these claims admitting only that it had employees who escorted the children from the break room to the production room.
Instead, the defendants’ answer to the lawsuits says that “the injuries, losses, expenses, and wrongs alleged to have been incurred by Plaintiffs resulted from the actions or failures to act of Plaintiffs, some other party, or some third party.”
The response says that any injuries alleged to have been incurred by the Plaintiffs “resulted from the negligence or fault of Plaintiffs themselves, or some third-party.”
Therefore, the Defendants, represented by the law firm of Wimbery Lawson Seale Wright & Daves, PLLC, have requested that the complaint be dismissed and that the costs, including Dixie Stampede’s attorneys’ fees, be taxed against the Plaintiffs.