Suit: She Fell Off Disney Ride as Workers Laughed. She Later Died

Family of disabled woman says she broke leg on Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, eventually died of infection
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 21, 2023 8:30 AM CST
Suit: She Fell Off Disney Ride as Workers Laughed. She Later Died
Visitors pass through Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on April 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A lawsuit claims Disneyland employees snickered at a disabled woman struggling to get off a Jungle Cruise boat before she fell and broke a leg, leading to her death from an infection five months later, per the AP. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in November by the family of Joanne Aguilar, 66, of Ventura, California, against the Walt Disney Company, its theme park division, and Disneyland, the Southern California News Group reported this week. In a response filed with the court Dec. 29, Disney denied the allegations and said it's seeking a jury trial, the news group reported.

According to the lawsuit, Aguilar went to Disneyland on Aug. 22, 2021, with her adult daughters Andrea Mallul and Zenobia Hernandez. The lawsuit says Disneyland employees at the Jungle Cruise ride told the family a wheelchair-accessible boat was unavailable and Aguilar opted to board with the assistance of her daughters. At the end of the ride, employees "placed small unsecured blocks on top of the existing steps inside the boat to reduce the height of each step," and the daughters attempted to help Aguilar get out of the boat, the lawsuit says.

It claims that employees didn't assist but instead snickered and giggled as they watched Aguilar struggle before she lost her balance on the blocks, fell backward, and fractured the femur in her right leg. Aguilar had surgery at a local hospital, where she spent 10 days before moving to a rehabilitation center. According to the lawsuit, she spent five months at the center, got an infection, went into septic shock, and died on Jan. 29.

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The lawsuit claims wrongful death and violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. It seeks monetary damages for pain, mental suffering, humiliation, medical costs, and funeral expenses. The case was assigned this month to US District Judge Cormac Carney at the Santa Ana courthouse.

(Read more Disneyland stories.)

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