The family of a 66-year-old disabled woman who died five months after falling on the Jungle Cruise ride says Disneyland employees laughed at the park visitor as she struggled to get out of a boat, according to a wrongful death lawsuit .
Joanne Aguilar, 66, visited Disneyland in August 2021 and chose to ride on a regular Jungle Cruise boat with the support of her daughters when park employees said no wheelchair-accessible boat was available, according to the lawsuit filed in Southern California last November .
When Aguilar tried to exit the boat at the end of the ride, the lawsuit said she lost her balance, fell backwards and broke her leg.
It is also claimed that staff placed at the exit of the ride to help drivers not only did not help her, but laughed as she struggled to get up the boat’s steps.
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“My clients went to Disneyland hoping to create a lifetime of happy memories and are instead left with memories of a lack of dignity and respect for their mother, which ultimately led to her eventual death,” said family attorney Michael Jeandron, opposite the Southern California News Group. “Two daughters are heartbroken, healing and seeking accountability for Disney cast members who laughed at their struggling mother instead of helping her.”
The lawsuit states that employees placed “small unsecured blocks on the existing steps in the boat to reduce the height of each step” as she exited the boat.
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“Getting off the boat was more difficult because she had to propel her body up with her lower legs, which her disability meant she couldn’t do. The struggle was evident and the Disney cast started giggling [sic] and giggled as they watched Ms. Aguilar try to get off the boat safely,” the lawsuit says, causing Aguilar to fall backwards and break her leg.
She was admitted to hospital, had surgery, and then spent the next five months in a rehabilitation facility. She contracted an infection and died of septic shock in January last year.
The lawsuit, which names Walt Disney Corporation, Disney’s Theme Parks Division and Disneyland, alleges wrongful death, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and seeks damages, mental suffering, humiliation, medical expenses and funeral expenses.
The lawsuit was filed last November and assigned to a judge in a Santa Ana court in early January.
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Disney denied having discriminated against Aguilar in any way, saying in a written response in court in late December that her injuries were caused by her own negligence. The company is seeking a jury trial.
Disney did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.