A disabled man who spent more than half an hour trapped in Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride in 2009 has won $8,000 in damages from the amusement park, the man’s lawyer said Tuesday.
Jose Martinez, a resident of San Pedro (Los Angeles County) who is in early 50s, was stuck in the “Goodbye Room” when the ride broke down the day after Thanksgiving in 2009, said David Geffen, a Santa Ana attorney.
Disneyland employees evacuated other riders but had no way to help Martinez, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, Geffen said.
Martinez suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure, both of which became an issue as he sat in the boat, the “Small World” song playing over and over and over, Geffen said.
“He was half in the cave of the ride and half out,” Geffen said. “The music was blaring. They couldn’t get it to go off.”
Disneyland employees should have called firefighters to evacuate Martinez, but instead they waited for the ride to be fixed, Geffen said. Martinez was eventually treated at a Disneyland first aid station, the lawyer said.
Besides failing to take proper care of Martinez while he was stuck on the ride, Disneyland did not notify disabled riders that if “It’s a Small World” broke down, they could be trapped, U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled Friday. Martinez sued Disneyland in February 2011 in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.
A spokesman for Disneyland did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment Tuesday.
“This is a really important ruling not just for (Martinez), but for anyone that rides the rides at Disneyland — because they do break down often and they do not tell people,” Geffen said. “The court’s saying that this kind of injury is foreseeable and that (Disneyland) has a duty to warn people.”