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A quadriplegic man stuck on Disneyland's "It's a Small World" ride for about 30 minutes has been awarded $8,000 by a federal judge.
Jose Martinez and his wife sued Disney after the incident. They claimed Disney should have known that the ride posed a unique risk of harm to disabled persons, reports the Orange County Register.
Disney should have been on notice about the faulty ride, given that it had broken down twice earlier that same day in 2009, the couple alleged. Martinez, who is wheelchair-bound, was stuck on the ride as it went through the cave ironically called the "goodbye room."
As the ride came to a halt and music continued to blare, Martinez says that he was stuck in the ride as other passengers were evacuated, reports the Register. Martinez says that he asked to move the boat a little bit so that he could free himself from the cave. However, there was no way to evacuate him.
Martinez claimed that being stuck in the ride was particularly dangerous to him as he suffers panic attacks, needed to use the restroom, and has dysreflexia, a condition that elevates blood pressure to dangerous levels.
The lawsuit claimed that Disney was at fault for continuing to operate the faulty ride and not warning disabled persons that there was no way to evacuate, reports the Register. Had he known in advance, Martinez says he would not have gotten in the ride.
While Judge James Selna threw out many of Martinez's claims, he did find Disney liable for premises liability. Generally, amusement park operators and any other business have a duty to make their premises safe for consumers.
And Disney breached this duty by operating the faulty ride and not providing Martinez the information necessary to make an informed decision whether to go on the ride in the first place, according to Selna. Disney "should have known that there was a likelihood of harm to a disabled person, as reflected in its own standards for that ride," the judge ruled.
In a statement, Disney officials said the company was "disappointed" in the ruling, but did not indicate whether it would appeal.
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