Landry's Downtown Aquarium target of Texas woman's personal-injury lawsuit

On May 2, 2008, Carolyn Sparks of Potter County, Texas, was visiting Landry's Downtown Aquarium in Denver with her daughter and husband. According to documents filed in Denver District Court, the trio was approached by a greeter who attached their wristbands and asked if they would like to have their picture taken in front of a large backdrop screen of some faux-ocean scenery.

Originally called Ocean Journey, the city-built aquarium was sold to the Landry's restaurant chain in 2004 and converted into an upscale, under-the-sea version of Casa Bonita, complete with shark and rainforest exhibits, and a dining experience that Westword's Jason Sheehan has described as a vision of his "own private hell." Though his review gutted the tourist trap Aquarium, at least he didn't end up in the hospital.

"While the employee of the Downtown Aquarium was instructing Mr. and Ms. Sparks and their daughter to positions for a picture, he directed the Sparks to take an immediate right into the exhibit," says a complaint filed by the Sparks' attorney, Andrew McLetchie. "Ms. Sparks turned right and tripped over the large screen's frame."

This should be where the article states that Sparks stumbled into the tiger habitat or fell into one of those open-air piranha tanks that so fascinated another Westword employee that the Aquarium's General Manager hung up on him during an interview.

But, no. Sparks ate shit on the ground, breaking her shoulder. Vacation ruined. Didn't even get a chance to try the "Shiver Me Timbers" cocktail.

She had to get orthopedic surgery back in Texas. Apparently settlement negotiations did not go swimmingly, because her attorney filed a negligence lawsuit against the aquarium. Landry's denies all claims. Last week, the judge in the case scheduled a jury trial for January 2010.

In the meantime, anyone up for some popcorn shrimp?

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Jared Jacang Maher

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