New developments in Disney’s fight against Segway use in the parks

Last December Disney announced they had reached a settlement with three plaintiffs who sued to be allowed to ride their Segways in the Walt Disney World resort and parks. The plaintiffs each had a disability for which they used the Segway as an assistive device and, the claimants pointed out, to give them more dignity when visiting Disney’s theme parks.

Today the original lawsuit was thrown out by a court who said that just feeling more dignified was not enough reason to force Disney to allow Segways when existing devices (wheelchairs) work just fine. Disney, of course, is claiming victory and oddly enough, so is another party.

Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (aka DRAFT) claims that the settlement Disney made with the original plaintiffs would have prevented future visitors to the parks who rely on Segways and other new forms of transportation for more than just a more dignified visit to the park from filing their own claims.

More at Bloomberg and the Orlando Sentinel.

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6 Responses to New developments in Disney’s fight against Segway use in the parks

  1. An interesting twist in Disney’s fight to keep guests from riding Segways at its parks and resorts. http://is.gd/43F7I

  2. Exert_Glider says:

    Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (DRAFT) Press Release

    FEDERAL COURT TOSSES OUT DISNEY SETTLEMENT

    Judge Opens Door to a Remedy for Disabled
    Disability Rights Advocates Vow to Pursue Open Policy for Segways

    Contact: Chris Black
    Tel: 202 333 3853
    Mobile: 202 302 4748
    christine_black@msn.com

    ORLANDO, FL. – In a striking victory for the disabled, a federal District Court judge tossed out a
    proposed settlement which would have banned personal Segway use forever in all Disney properties in
    the United States.

    “This is a victory for disability rights and we are heartened by the court’s findings,’’ said Jerry Kerr,
    President of Disability Rights Advocates for Technology (www.draft.org), the non‐profit organization
    which organized opposition to the proposed ban. “But Disney’s policy on Segways still stands. We call
    on the Walt Disney Company to voluntarily change its policy and recognize the rights of disabled people
    to use the assistive device which best meets their needs.’’

    US District Judge Gregory A. Presnell tossed out the proposed settlement after four months of
    deliberation after holding a two‐day fairness hearing on the proposed ban last June. DRAFT members
    and disabled war veterans were among those who testified against the settlement. In addition, the civil
    rights division of the U.S. Justice Department and 23 state Attorneys General filed friend of the court
    briefs objecting to the settlement.

    DRAFT did not bring the original law suit against the Walt Disney Company. DRAFT got involved when
    the original three plaintiffs agreed to a settlement which would have banned all personal Segway use in
    perpetuity in all Disney properties. Disney uses Segways for its own employees and for paid Segway
    tours for park visitors but banned the use of private Segways ostensibly for safety reasons.

    The Segway has found a loyal following among many disabled people. DRAFT has presented more than
    350 Segways to military service members who suffered disabling injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan in the
    last three years. One of those recipients, Major Daniel Gade, a former member of the White House
    domestic policy staff who lost a leg in combat, testified at the fairness hearing.

    Judge Presnell said the section of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act cited by the original
    plaintiffs was not sufficiently broad enough to expressly allow Segways but in his opinion he recognized
    that the important psychological advantages of a disabled person using a Segway which allows a user to
    stand upright instead of a wheelchair.

    “This case is not about necessary accommodation,’’ said the ruling. “ The real question, it seems, is the
    extent to which the ADA can (or should) promote equal treatment and human dignity by requiring
    acceptance of new technologies. As Major Gade and others testified, the Segway is quickly changing the
    way disabled Americans are perceived and treated in our society. The importance of this interest simply
    cannot be overlooked.’’

    Judge Presnell left open the possibility that another law suit or action by another branch of government
    might be sufficient to overturn the Disney ban. The Justice Department is working on regulations which
    are expected to classify the Segway as a legitimate assistive device when used by the disabled to
    improve their mobility.

    David Ferleger, lead counsel for DRAFT and a legal advocate for the disabled for more than 35 years, said
    the original lawsuit contained fatal flaws which could be addressed in another legal action.

    “It is gratifying to see the court recognize the tremendous importance of technology to people with
    disabilities and to recognize that federal law specifically protects the dignity of disabled people,’’ said
    Ferleger.

    David Ferlenger, the ADA counsel, can be reached at: Office 215 887 0123
    Mobile: 215 498 1777

  3. John Frost says:

    Sadly, the Judge’s order dismissing the lawsuit says nothing about DRAFT or the invalidity of Disney’s Policy. If you’re saying the chance to fight again is a victory, well then that’s a pretty low standard.

  4. Expert_Glider says:

    DRAFT did not bring the original law suit against the Walt Disney Company. DRAFT got involved when
    the original three plaintiffs agreed to a settlement which would have banned all personal Segway use in perpetuity in all Disney properties.

    Disney cannot hide behind a bogus settlement. The Judge agreed with us (as objectors to the class action settlement) that the three plaintiffs did not represent the class.

    A HUGE victory for people with disabilities.

    This is just the beginning.

  5. Donald says:

    If they are used in the park, they should have to be set to less than 4 MPH. They are a danger to all visitors and kids in the parks. Employees are trained to ride them and the tours happen in the early morning before the park opens (so I have been told). If someone (disabled or otherwise) hits me or my children with one of those things, it will become much more personal than just a lawsuit.

  6. brendoman says:

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how a Segway is more dignified than a wheelchair or an ECV. Yes, you’re standing up, but you still look goofy. Also, as dangerous as wheelchairs and ECV’s (Electric Convenience Vehicles) are in the park, I could only see Segway’s being infinitely more dangerous. I think I might have said this on these comments before, but as a Cast Member I suffered quite a few minor injuries just from wheelchairs and strollers. This isn’t Disney trying to keep these people down, it’s a serious safety and liability issue.

Comments are closed.