A Woodbridge, N.J., girl who says she was physically and emotionally scarred when a pole fell on her at an amusement-park ride has filed a lawsuit against Morey's Piers in Wildwood.
But the ride's manufacturer - not named in the lawsuit - says the girl's Twitter account seems to suggest she is happy and healthy, contrary to her claims of injury.
Gia Mastroserio was 13 when she took a seat in the rear of Morey's Sea Dragon, a ride featuring a large gondola decorated like a pirate ship that swings back and forth until riders are nearly vertical at the top of each arc.
Her suit contends that about 9 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2011, part of the tall steel pole at the center of the ride broke off and fell onto the gondola, striking her.
She alleges that she suffered "severe and sustained injuries" to her face, hands, and arms and that Morey's was negligent because Chance Rides Inc., maker of the Sea Dragon, had warned amusement parks to remove or inspect the pole because it could collapse.
The pole is made to look like a ship's mast but serves no structural function.
The accident received extensive media coverage in part because it occurred just 10 weeks after 11-year-old Abiah Jones of Pleasantville, N.J., plunged to her death from the giant Ferris wheel at Morey's.
Mastroserio was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Four other passengers received first aid at the park.
Her lawsuit, prepared by lawyer Michael Dansky of Marlton, alleges that because of her injuries Mastroserio has required and will continue to require extensive medical care, tests, and treatments for her injuries and that she suffers "pain ... suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss of independence, mental anguish, humiliation [and] the inability to enjoy the normal activities and pleasures of life."
Dansky said Monday that his client was not suing Chance Rides because it had warned amusement parks with a Sea Dragon about 10 years earlier that the fake mast represented a danger and should be removed, reinforced, or inspected frequently for weakness.
"This was completely preventable," said Dansky, adding that he and the Mastroserio family had decided to sue because Morey's insurance company had been "rude" and "dismissive" of her claims when he tried to negotiate a settlement.
A spokeswoman for Morey's said the company did not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy.
Jeff Roth, vice president for operations at Chance Rides, said Monday the accident at Morey's was the only incident involving a Sea Dragon, which Chance made in the 1980s. He said he did not know how many it made.
Roth voiced skepticism about the extent of Mastroserio's injuries, however. He noted that her Twitter account depicts her as playful, popular, and athletic, suggesting she and her lawyer have exaggerated the extent of her injuries.
"There are no scars in her photos that I can see" on her Twitter page, Roth said, "and she certainly seems to be enjoying life."
Mastroserio's Twitter page shows a smiling blond girl and indicates she has sent out more than 24,000 tweets since creating the page. Monday's tweets included mention of a recent sleepover and reported she was getting ready to try out for her high school volleyball team.
Dansky voiced surprise when informed of Roth's skepticism.
"That's unusual," he said, but added that his client's injuries were "pretty horrific" and her surgeries were "well documented."
"She will have an opportunity to make her case before a jury," he said.