Looks like Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has no patience with waiting in line for a lawsuit claiming it violated the American With Disabilities Act to make its way through the courts. The division of the media giant bluntly hit back against complaint filed in early April by the families of children with developmental disorders over treatment at its parks. “Disney prays for the following relief,” said the 93-page response filed yesterday in federal court (read it here), “that the Plaintiffs take nothing by their Complaint … Plaintiff’s compliant be dismissed with prejudice in its entirety.”
In fact, in their repetitive point-by-point retort, Disney lawyers Rhonda Trotter and Daniel Paluch of LA firm Kaye Scholer LLP basically give short shrift to nearly all the allegations of violations of the ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act from the large group of plaintiffs. The families say the violations occurred because of the introduction in October of a new and cumbersome to say the least Disability Access Service at the company’s theme parks and resorts including Disneyland. Long story short, the DAS left the children disrepected by park employees, stuck in long lines to which their conditions are unsuited and causing “meltdown behaviors.”
Among the various heartbreaking claims that stood out in the initial filing include Disney’s replacement of the longstanding and apparently much-loved Guest Assistance Card program, which was scrapped in an effort to stop unscrupulous scams, and claims of a very VIP “Magic List,” described as “a secret list of persons to whom Disney will automatically extend, without the stigma of a ‘Disability’ card, and without a mandatory photograph, and without the newly-ingrained disrespect of Disney employees, five immediate-entry, no-appointment ride passes.” The April 3 complaint said that could provide a solution to the waits and other inconveniences causing hardship to the children in question and their families. “Disney denies each and every allegation” of such a Magic List and its privileges in its response this week. Not much room for interpretation there.
Actually, besides admitting that “this Court has federal question jurisdiction over the claims set forth in the Complaint,” and that it is a Florida-based corporation, the response filed on June 9 in U.S. District Court in California also rejects virtually everything else in the 176-page complaint filed by the families on April 3. And, with a remark that Disney “has a long-standing, unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experience for guests with disabilities,” it does so rather bloodlessly. Leaving the claims of personal traumas unaddressed, the response says the plaintiffs’ points “constitute conclusions of law to which Disney is not required to respond” or are repeatedly noted; one example: “Disney lacks sufficient information or belief to admit or deny the allegations in Paragraph 22 of the Complaint, and on that basis denies them.”
Those rejections, of course, also include the damages and other relief that the plaintiffs are seeking. “To the extent the Prayer for Relief may be deemed to require a response, Disney denies each and every allegation in this paragraph (as well as the subparagraphs therein), and denies that monetary damages, litigation costs, prejudgment interest or any other relief sought is appropriate or required,” says the response specifically on the matter on money.
No hearing date has been set yet before Judge Manuel Real on the matter or Disney’s response.