This is not the happiest place on Earth by far for either side. Not only does Walt Disney Parks and Resorts want an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit from the families of children with developmental disorders tossed, it also really doesn’t want to see any more plaintiffs added to the controversial case. “Most of the proposed complaint is repetitive, argumentative, inflammatory, irrelevant and unnecessary,” said the media giant’s parks and resorts division in opposition earlier this week to the amended compliant of August 27 that seeks to include 69 new plaintiffs to the discrimination case first filed back in April
Citing “excessive detail and inflammatory language” and the absence of “the basic elements of a legal claim,” Disney suggests the action isn’t about the discomfort and potential discrimination that may have been suffered by 16 children with conditions like autism and 10 of their guardians while visiting Disneyland and other theme parks but about chasing the media spotlight.
“It is clear that plaintiffs’ lead counsel, who features articles about this case on his website, spent five months preparing a 334-page amendment primarily for the purpose of generating press for this case, instead of writing a short and concise statement of plaintiffs’ claims as required by the Federal Rules’ brevity mandate,” says Disney’s lawyer Rhonda Trotter of LA firm Kaye Scholer LLP in the September 15 filing (read it here). “The very prolixity of plaintiffs’ proposed amendment, combined with the inflammatory tone of the allegations and the timing of its filing, demonstrate that it was made in bad faith.”
Noting trauma and suffering as well, the original 57-count complaint from the more than a dozen children and their guardians sought damages, injunctive relief and declaratory relief for violations of the ADA and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. In rejecting those claims, Disney has also denied the existence of the so-called “Magic List,” which was described in the initial complaint this spring as a possible solution to the shortcomings of the present Disability Access Service, which was introduced in October. The “Magic List” reportedly grants selected VIPs the fast track and no drama of no-wait, no-appointment-necessary ride passes among its privileges.
No drama is something Disney appears to desire from the upcoming October 6 hearing on the additions in front of Judge Manuel Real here in L.A. Claiming that the amended complaint if granted would be “one of the longest complaints ever filed in a federal district court,” the company’s attorney warns that the new complaint “would require Disney to provide paragraph-by-paragraph responses to more than 1,400 separate paragraphs of factual allegations, which would require substantial time and expense.”
Obviously that “onerous task,” as the document says, is something Disney thinks it shouldn’t have to do for a case it already ia trying to get dismissed or moved from California to corporately more friendly Florida. Judge Real has not yet ruled on the latter, but the House of Mouse sure knows how it wants the federal bench to rule on the amended complaint. “Courts have broad discretion to deny leave to amend a complaint based on futility, inexcusable delay, undue prejudice to the opposing party, or bad faith,” notes the 7-page filing to that point. Pretty clear there.
Andy Dogali of Tampa, FL’s Dogali Law Group and Hermosa Beach, CA, attorney Eugene Feldman represent the plaintiffs.