Disney Blamed for Disabled Parkgoer’s Death – Employees Allegedly Laughed at Victim

“The Happiest Place on Earth”? That’s not even remotely accurate for the family of Joanne Aguilar, which has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company, its theme park division and Disneyland itself, according to a report from the New York Post. Aguilar tragically passed away on Jan. 29, 2022, after complications from a myriad of injuries caused her to go into septic shock. Her family is alleging in a lawsuit that Disney bore significant responsibility for that death. According to the Post, Aguilar visited the Anaheim-based Disneyland in August 2021 with her two adult daughters. At the time of the visit, Aguilar was recovering from a knee injury, so she needed a wheelchair, which her family was able to obtain from Disneyland. During that visit, however, Aguilar and her daughters soon discovered that the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland did not have its wheelchair-accessible boat available. Aguilar opted to ride a standard Jungle Cruise boat, with assistance from her daughters. Now, as anyone who has ever ridden or operated the Jungle Cruise ride can attest (full disclosure: I have ridden Jungle Cruise before, and my wife actually operated that ride, once upon a time), the most “difficult” part of the ride is simply getting on and off of it. For the Disneyland employees, it’s a delicate balancing act, literally, to make sure larger people or groups don’t capsize the boat. For the riders, it’s just a pain to get off and on a wobbly boat. Stunningly, it’s at this point where the case takes a morosely sinister turn. The lawsuit alleges that Disneyland “cast members” (the company’s preferred term to “employees”) were seen “snickering and giggling” at Aguilar’s struggles to get off the boat. If true, it’s hard to blame Aguilar for feeling “dehumanized,” as the lawsuit claims. If the cast members were laughing, they probably weren’t laughing long, as Aguilar lost her balance trying to exit the ride and stumbled. Aguilar broke her femur in the fall, requiring a visit to the hospital before ultimately being transferred to a rehab center. It was at that rehab center in Oxnard, California, where Aguilar toiled away for five months before contracting an infection, which led to her going into septic shock, which caused her death. The lawsuit ultimately alleges that the injuries Aguilar sustained at Disneyland were the root cause of her death. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for physical pain, mental suffering and humiliations, as well as all the medical costs, funeral expenses and attorneys’ fees. “My clients went to Disneyland with the hopes of creating life-long happy memories and instead are left with the memory of a lack of dignity and respect for their mother which ultimately led to her final demise,” the family’s attorney, Michael Jeandron, told the Orange County Register. “Two daughters are heartbroken, healing and seeking accountability for Disney cast members who laughed at their struggling mother instead of helping her.” Disney, meanwhile, is unsurprisingly seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming that Aguilar’s injuries were caused by her own conduct and negligence, and that Disneyland did not discriminate against her. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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