McGraw sues carnival ride business

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 15, 2011


WAYNE -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw this week filed a lawsuit against an entertainment company for unlawful, deceptive and unfair sales practices in operating an amusement and carnival ride business.

McGraw's suit, filed Sunday in Wayne County Circuit Court, alleges that All American Rides and Shows and Tony Best, the company's owner, entered into a contract in March with Bruce Finely and the Wayne County Fair Board.

Under that contract's term, Best agreed to provide 10 carnival rides and a cotton candy trailer in exchange for $15,000.

After accepting a $5,000 payment up front, Best did not honor the agreement and failed to provide any of the amusement rides or services promised, McGraw's suit alleges.

As a result of the company's failure to deliver the promised amusement rides, the Wayne County Fair, held July 30-Aug. 6, suffered a dramatically low attendance this year, McGraw says.

"This company not only broke the law but the hearts of hundreds of children hoping to enjoy the final days of summer at their local county fair," the attorney general said in a statement Monday.

In West Virginia, carnival and amusement operations must obtain proper permits from the Safety Section of the West Virginia Division of Labor. Proof of insurance or a bond, as well as a business registration certificate, also are required.

All American Rides and Shows failed to satisfy any of those legal requirements, the Attorney General's Office alleges.

Jennifer Burgess, director of the Division of Labor's Safety Section, said permits to operate expire each year on Dec. 31.

All American Rides and Shows, she said, have not had permits since Dec. 31, 2010 and the company's rides were last inspected in August 2010.

The division's safety section surveys all known events, fairs and festivals each year for event dates and the names of any amusement ride companies they plan to use.

Burgess said the Wayne County Fair Board responded to that survey, saying All American Fairs and Shows was scheduled to play this year's fair.

"The company failed to register with us, as required, for that event but also did not show for the fair," she said.

The Attorney General's Office then alerted the labor division that the company was scheduled to play the Huntington Rib & Music Fest, held Aug. 11-14, Burgess said.

The labor division subsequently issued cease and desist orders on Aug. 11 on the rides that were set up at the Rib & Music Fest, she said.

That's when the Attorney General's Office took over, filing suit against the company.

McGraw's office is seeking a preliminary injunction barring All American Rides and Shows from engaging in unlawful practices in West Virginia and to freeze the company's bank account.

The complaint also requests restitution and civil penalties.

A hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Tuesday before Wayne Circuit Judge James H. Young.

Jessica M. Karmasek contributed to this report.

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