Disabled Man Awarded $8K After Enduring 'It's a Small World' Song While Trapped 30 Minutes on Broken Ride
The "It's a small world" ride at Disneyland can be a special level of Hell for adults obliging children who beg for a trip through the colorful sing-songy land of imagined equality. But imagine being a disabled patron trapped for 30 minutes on the ride when it breaks down, with the "It's a small world" song playing over...and over...and over.
This happened to Jose R. Martinez in 2009, and subsequently the wheelchair-dependent man filed a suit against the Mouse, and has now been awarded $8,000 for his suffering.
However, before all parents, aunts, uncles, godparents, and grandparents forced to endure the sappy ear-worm theme ditty run off to file lawsuits against Disneyland for their pain and suffering, the crux of this particular lawsuit and award concerns how Disneyland specifically accommodates disabled guests.
In a non-jury trial, U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled partially in favor of Martinez, according to City News Service, but also partially in favor of Disneyland. The theme park says the gist of the trial involved disabled access to Disneyland's first aid station, which has since been corrected, according to Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown.
Here's what happened on that unpleasant day: Martinez was on the "It's a small world" ride on November 27, 2009, when the ride malfunctioned. A number of maladies soon set in for the man: "Martinez's anxiety increased as his bladder began to fill [and he] also developed a severe headache and recognized that he was experiencing autonomic dysreflexia, which is often caused by an overly full bladder," Judge Selna said in the ruling. However, Selna points out Martinez had medication for the malady in his backpack, but neither he nor his wife retrieved it, nor did they ask an employee for help getting it.
And, of course, the "It's a small world" song played all the while, until eventually rider complaints compelled employees to turn it off.
Martinez's attorney, David Geffen, said $4,000 was awarded to his client for pain and suffering and the rest was for an Americans with Disabilities Act violation.
Selna said in his ruling Disney had a duty to warn disabled guests that they could become stuck on the ride for an extended period of time if it broke down.
For their part, Disney says that's not true, and they aren't pleased with the ruling: "Disneyland Resort believes it provided all appropriate assistance to Mr. and Mrs. Martinez when the ride temporarily stopped and is disappointed that the court did not fully agree," read a statement from Disneyland.
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