Acrobats involved in Providence circus accident file lawsuit

In this photo provided by Frank Caprio, performers hang during an aerial hair-hanging stunt at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Friday, May 2, 2104, in Providence, R.I. (Photo: AP/Frank Caprio/Joe Ponte)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been two years since faulty equipment sent eight acrobats plunging to the ground during a circus performance in Providence.

Eyewitness News has learned those performers have filed a lawsuit.

The accident happened during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus performance at the Dunkin Donuts Center on May 4, 2014.

It occurred during a hair-hanging act when a faulty carabiner clip gave way, allowing a troupe of female acrobats to fall more than 20 feet to the ground.

The eight performers who were seriously injured are now suing five companies tied to the carabiner clip in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The complaint alleges, in part:

“Defendants… were negligent and reckless with regard to design, manufacture, testing, assembly, distribution, sale and inspection of the subject carabiner.

The subject carabiner was defective when placed on the market by Defendants… and was of such a nature that the defects would not be discovered in the normal course of inspection and operation by users.”

The lawsuit states plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent injuries, serious emotional distress, a loss of earning capacity and incurred significant medical expenses.

The women are asking for a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the circus $7,000 after finding the equipment was improperly installed.

According to Ringling Bros., the carabiner was inspected and was rated to hold 10,000 pounds – the performers weighed 1,500.

Eyewitness News has learned the circus was not named in the lawsuit.

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