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Thursday, July 16, 2009

USA, 23 States Object to Settlement : Segways, Walt Disney World, Title III ADA, Discrimination

I'm lead counsel in an unusual case in which I represent objectors to a settlement.

Private plaintiffs sued Walt Disney World Co. in 2007 claiming that Disney's ban on Segways for people with disabilities violates the ADA. It was filed as a class action. At the end of 2008, these plaintiffs settled for an agreement which would UPHOLD the 100% blanket ban on Segway use, among other provisions which are questionable in my view.

I represent Disability Rights Advocates for Technology, an amazing organization, and nearly 100 objectors. The US Dept of Justice has joined us in objecting as have 23 States, and a number of national disability groups.

A hearing in June 2009 has been followed by post-trial briefing. The issue is before the judge.

There appears to be no middle ground on this and the case is likely headed toward the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, whoever wins in the lower courts.

Below is the introduction to our brief. A PDF is available on request to me.

David Ferleger


The United States, 23 States, national disability organizations representing tens of
thousands of people, and nearly 100 individuals request this Court to disapprove the
settlement. The settlement would establish a permanent 100% ban on the use by people with
disabilities of a unique, safe mobility device at Disney properties. The ban and other
provisions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act which acknowledges and embraces new technologies that assist individuals with disabilities. No blanket exclusionary policy
from facility access has been upheld by any court. Such a policy per se violates the ADA and
is contrary to controlling Supreme Court precedent.

Disney’s proposition that its way is the only way for people with disabilities to travel
is akin to asking a stigmatized minority to sit at the back of the bus, use a different water
fountain, or to use a separate lunch counter. You can still see from the back of the bus, and
the food and water are the same. In truth, though, they are not the same. The ADA put an end to forcing people with disabilities to travel a different path.