California Federal Court Moves ADA Suit Against Disney to Florida

Disney successfully argued before a California federal judge that a suit alleging Disney’s Disability Access Service (“DAS”) discriminates against autistic children should be transferred to Florida from California where it originated.  Disney reasoned that because the DAS program’s developers are based in Florida and employee training of the program also took place in Florida, the appropriate venue for the suit would be a Florida federal court.

Instead of letting disabled guests to skip lines, the DAS program now informs them a return time for attractions based on the current wait times for the attractions.  The program was developed when Disney discovered some wealthy visitors abused its predecessor program, the Guest Assistance Card, by hiring guests with disabilities to skip lines.  The DAS program has been implemented at Disneyland in California and at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

With more than 20 plaintiffs and possibly up to 70 additional plaintiffs to be added, the suit alleged that Disney violated the American Disabilities Act (“ADA”) as well as a California law that bars discrimination against disabilities among others.  The plaintiffs claimed that children with autism or other mental disabilities lack patience to wait in line and some of them could manifest “meltdown behaviors” forcing them to leave the parks.

Earlier this year Disney responded that the suit was meritless as the company follows “all ADA requirements” and is committed to

“provid[e] an inclusive and accessible environment for all [its] guests.”

 

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