A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Disneyland alleges park employees laughed at a 66-year-old disabled woman before she fell while getting off the Jungle Cruise ride in 2021 and later died, the Orange County Register reported.
The lawsuit was filed by the family of Joanne Aguilar, of Ventura County, against the Walt Disney company, its theme park division and Disneyland. It was assigned to a federal judge in Santa Ana on Jan. 5, the newspaper reported.
Aguilar visited the Anaheim park with her two adult daughters on Aug. 22, 2021. When they arrived at the Jungle Cruise attraction, Aguilar, who was physically disabled, was told by employees that a wheelchair-accessible boat was unavailable, the Register reported.
While the attraction does have a ADA-accessible boat that allows disabled visitors to board without getting out of their wheelchair, Aguilar opted to ride another boat with the assistance of her daughters.
After the ride ended, Aguilar’s daughters helped her off the boat. Instead of assisting, the lawsuit alleges cast members laughed at Aguilar’s struggles, leaving her feeling ashamed and embarrassed.
Aguilar ended up losing her balance on blocks placed on the steps, fell back and fractured her right femur. She was taken to a hospital where she remained for 10 days before moving to an Oxnard rehabilitation center.
Aguilar stayed there for five months before she got an infection, went into septic shock and died on Jan. 29, 2022, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges Aguilar died as a result of her injuries from the fall at the park.
Her family sued Disneyland on Nov. 18 for wrongful death and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are seeking a monetary judgment for physical pain, mental suffering, humiliation, medical costs and funeral expenses, according to the Register.
In a written response to the newspaper, Disney lawyers said Aguilar’s injuries were caused by her own conduct and negligence, and that Disneyland did not discriminate against her.
“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 Register. “Two daughters are heartbroken, healing and seeking accountability for Disney cast members who laughed at their struggling mother instead of helping her.”