Its A Small (And Litigatious) World: California Man Receives Damages For Being Stuck In Disney Ride

220px-IASW_HKThere is an interesting case out of Disneyland this month where a paraplegic man was stuck on the famous (infamous?) Its A Small World ride after a breakdown and sued for emotional distress. It is the scene of countless parodies of people going mad in the ride. What is interesting is that Jose Martinez, 52, was only left for 30 minutes and it was at the end of the ride as they were leaving the goodbye tunnel. While the music continues to play, it was only for 30 minutes as they fixed a mechanical problem. Nevertheless, Disney was hit with damages to the tune of $8000.


Martinez was at the park with his wife in Nov. 27, 2009. They evacuated everyone but could not evacuate him immediately due to his disability. Rather than call the fire department, they fixed the ride and he was moved to the departure area where he could be helped out of the boat. Martinez needed medical attention for the stress and later sued. He said that the park should have called the fire department. However, it would likely have taken at least that amount of time for the fire department to get there, evaluate the situation, and carry him off the ride.

The federal court awarded $4,000 for pain and suffering and $4,000 related to other access violations. I must confess some concern over the award since mechanical problems and slight delays occur routinely in any large organization. Indeed, the lines alone at Disney can take two hours. I am also curious about the access violation. This is a low amount for a serious violation of the disability law. It suggests that there are handicapped areas and resources as one might expect but that this was a fine for the failure to remove Martinez rather than to transport him to the nearby exit for exiting passengers. Moreover this was not a thrill ride where you are stuck at some precarious height or angle. The ride moves slowly in a boat, which is clearly on tracks. You would be in greater risk standing at the Disney dress store among Princess-crazy girls.

Even as a kid, I thought the ride was pretty darn creepy. Now I go as a cultural touchstone. Now it will hold even more special meaning as a to

Source: LA Times

23 thoughts on “Its A Small (And Litigatious) World: California Man Receives Damages For Being Stuck In Disney Ride

  1. i’ve lived in central floriduh on and off since the mid 80’s and i’ve never once had the desire to go to mickeyworld. they should’ve given him a free three day pass so he can o.d. on that crap.

    but i guess he got “more than a feeling” and “peace of mind” to go with the 8g’s. “don’t look back”, jose martinez.

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