(June 29, 2018) Today, Rhoades McKee Attorneys Paul McCarthy, Martin Buschle, and Stephen Hulst filed a lawsuit against Parrot’s Landing, Inc., a Michigan Corporation, its owner, Travis Parrott, and its former employee, David Wilson, on behalf of Illinois residents, Dr. John Ross and his wife, Erin.  Dr. Ross suffered multiple neck fractures in a Jeep rollover accident at Silver Lake Sand Dunes on August 4, 2017.

Parrot’s Landing, Inc.’s for-profit business model preys on out-of-state vacationers by knowingly misrepresenting its Silver Lake Dune tours and Jeep rentals as a fun and safe family activity, including for any toddler over 12 months, while actively concealing horrific and chronic rollovers of its Jeeps.  Out-of-state vacationers are fraudulently induced to participate in an activity they falsely believe to be safe; one in which they would not participate in the absence of Parrot’s Landing’s misrepresentations and concealment.

This history of Parrot’s Landing customers unwittingly and unintentionally rolling over Jeeps at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes is both shocking and appalling, as summarized by the following chart:

Dr. Ross was the ninth Parrot’s Landing customer to experience an unintentional Jeep rollover, the third in three consecutive days, and the second in two days on “hill three.”  Nearly all of these drivers, each enduring a terrifying life-threatening experience, are out-of-state residents who were vacationing in Michigan.  None had any idea that they were at risk of rolling a Jeep over.

When the Jeep rollover data is considered in the context of rollovers of UTVs by Parrot’s Landing’s sister company, Wild Bill’s ATVs, Inc. (which is operated out of the same building), what is appalling becomes incomprehensible:

Dr. Ross was the 22nd person to suffer an unintentional rollover – the eighth in a one month period alone during the summer of 2017.  It is believed that most, if not all, of these rollovers occurred when drivers were not accompanied by a “tour guide,” but rather, occurred during unsupervised driving time.

All of this background was concealed by Travis Parrott, his company, and his employees.  Not only was none of this rollover information revealed, but no safety-related information of any kind was (or is) imparted on the Parrot’s Landing website.  Worse, no information is provided by Parrot’s Landing regarding the risk of any personal injury, much less that customers are at risk of unwittingly launching a Jeep into the air upon cresting a dune and rolling the 3,879 pound vehicle over.  In fact, Parrot’s Landing’s website represents that its dune tours and Jeep rentals are safe for children over the age of 12 months.

Not only do Parrot’s Landing’s “tour guides” conceal the risk of rollovers, they specifically instruct customers to “put the pedal to the floor!”, “give it gas!”, and “floor it!” in order to climb a dune and not get stuck in the sand.  Glaringly absent from any instruction is the contradictory requirement to slow the Jeep down at the crest of a dune (which oftentimes cannot be seen over the hood).  Parrot’s Landing gives no instruction on slowing down, the need to slow down, the risk of becoming airborne, the risk of nose planting, or the risk of rolling a Jeep over.

Travis Parrott and his company further concealed the pronounced risk associated with “hill three,” which had been the site of a multitude of rollovers, including two by Jeeps within the three weeks preceding Dr. Ross’ accident.  Despite this, Parrot’s Landing did not instruct/warn customers to stay off hill three and concealed that there was any risk associated with hill three.

The facts reveal Travis Parrott and his company are not just acting recklessly, they are intentionally putting their unwitting customers at risk and in harm’s way – all for profit motive.  Even after Dr. Ross’ accident, Parrot’s Landing continues to conceal its history of rollovers, continues to conceal any risk of becoming airborne or rolling a Jeep, and continues to provide the singular instruction of “put the pedal to the floor” all the way up the dune.

Further, while Parrot’s Landing’s manager, Dutch, exclaimed that the unsupervised “drive on your own” time would be suspended after Dr. Ross’ rollover (it is believed that most, if not all, of the 22 rollovers occurred during such unsupervised drive time), Parrot’s Landing made no change in this regard either.  It continued (and continues) to market and rent Jeeps to inexperienced and unfamiliar drivers without supervision and outside its 1-hour dune tour.  The lawsuit asks the Court to grant injunctive relief and to bring to an end Parrot’s Landing’s false, deceptive, and unsafe business practices.

That Parrot’s Landing’s disregard for safety is intentional is further established by the fact that it does not provide or require the use of crash helmets, which are required by Michigan law.  Nor do they equip their Jeeps with 5-point safety harnesses to restrain drivers and passengers.

Attorney Paul McCarthy stated:  “The only word that describes the conduct of Travis Parrott and his business is ‘unconscionable.’  They are knowingly and intentionally putting customers, inexperienced and unfamiliar with dune climbing, at risk by concealing the chronic rollover risk, not warning them of the risk in the first place, then giving them training that only magnifies the risk.  This lawsuit is designed to swiftly and justly address their fraudulent business practices not just in the form of money damages but also in the form of injunctive relief to stop Parrot’s Landing’s deceptive business practices.”

Dr. Ross stated:  “Based on Parrot’s Landing’s representations and website, I believed we were engaged in a safe and fun family activity.  They even encouraged my 16-year-old son, who only had his learner’s permit, to take a turn driving the Jeep, which I took as further assurance that driving the dunes was safe.  I would never have taken my kids there had I known there was any risk of rolling a Jeep over.  I am appalled and outraged to learn of the rollover history and cannot believe that the business owner would intentionally put me and my family at risk.  Unfortunately, I have to live with the consequences of his decision and his false and deceptive business practices.”

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