Disney on Trial: It's a Small, Small Settlement
Are Americans wising up on disability suits? A Professional Plaintiff sued Disneyland, and walked away with only $8000; about how much Disney makes selling Mouse Ears for half an hour.
A disabled man got stuck on the “It’s a Small World Ride” at Disneyland for close to 30 miniutes, and filed suit in a Federal Court
It’s a nightmare for anyone who has ever heard the song. Can you imagine being forced to listen to it repeating for half an hour? Detainees at Guantanamo usually broke, just on the suggestion of such a torture.
Which is probably why Jose Martinez, who had filed 41 disability lawsuits in the past, thought he had struck gold. The combination of deep pockets and the most annoying ear- worm ever composed should have made him a millionaire several times over.
Unfortunately, the judge only awarded $8,000, just a handful of billable hours. You would think that the settlement would include the cost of electroshock therapy to remove the song from your head. Half the settlement was for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, because Disney did not adequately warn disabled passengers that their rides occasionally break down.
Now that’s just ridiculous. In a modern age, everything has the possibility of breaking down. Even cars with 100K mile warranties, Energizer batteries, and Maytag Washing Machines. Imagining a place where machinery never breaks down is a Fantasy that is even beyond the most creative Disney Artists.
Conversely, part of the amusement park thrill, is the possibility of something going horribly wrong. From the likelihood of encountering real ghosts in the Haunted Mansion to losing your teacakes on the Mad Hatter ride, most of the park is the illusion of risk. Disney is kind of the anti-Vegas, where only a small minority comes away losers.
The judge also ruled, that “Martinez’s anxiety increased as his bladder began to fill,”
Well at least he wasn’t being hung upside down on the X-Coaster. It also seems to me, that is something you should take care of, before you get into a splashing boat.
Of course the question everyone is asking, is why was the settlement so small. It turns out, this is how Martinez makes his living:
“When Disney learned Martinez had settled 41 disability discrimination lawsuits, Disney turned up the heat, referring to Martinez as 'an admitted professional plaintiff,' and asked the court to compel Martinez disclose what he received to settle them. Disney pointed out that Martinez made allegations in several of the prior lawsuits very similar to the allegations he made against Disney. Ultimately, Martinez dismissed several of his claims, presumably to avoid having to disclose information about his prior settlements.”
This is a positive sign. As the Americans With Disabilities Act moves into it’s third decade, people are aware that enormous accommodations have already been made for the disabled. The very existence of a wheelchair accessible boat, clearly shows that Disney does not want to exclude anyone from their parks. Perhaps this decision will discourage frivolous disability lawsuits in the future.
But I wouldn’t take that bet to Vegas