Disney Files Petition to Keep Autism Lawsuits from Going to Trial

According to the Orlando Sentinel, The Walt Disney Company filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeal’s 11th Circuit in Atlanta, asking for a rehearing of a court’s decision made in August. The court in August “ruled the plaintiffs’ complaints should be heard at trial,” which sparked 30 lawsuits against The Walt Disney Company. The lawsuits contend people with autism are no longer accommodated for their disabilities because they must wait before getting on theme park attractions.

Under the current system, guests with disabilities are given an access card, which reserves them a time to return to the attraction with access to the end of the FastPass line. Before 2013, guests with disabilities were given access to the end of the FastPass line immediately, but Disney admits that the system was abused. Allegedly some wealthy families would hire someone disabled in order to get them that front of the line access, which is part of what caused the policy change.

The lawsuits against Disney claim that the new policy still makes guests with autism wait, which can cause meltdowns. Children with severe autism can find waiting difficult because they have a hard time understanding the concept of time.

Disney said in court documents that the court’s ruling in August “assumes that Disney somehow has the ability, let alone legal obligation, to prevent meltdowns with instant and unrestricted ride entry.” Disney also stated that this requirement is “untenable but also incompatible with the way places of public accommodation have operated for decades.”

Disney is also looking to cut down on the number of plaintiffs claiming that “at least seven did not have severe autism.”

Credit: Orlando Sentinel

Stephen "Steve" Porter started going to the parks with his family in 1996. Since then he hasn't looked back! Steve was a cast member participating in the Disney College Program in 2013. Most recently he graduated from Penn State University!

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