The family of a disabled woman, 66, who died five months after suffering a fall on the Jungle Cruise ride says Disneyland employees laughed at the parkgoer while she struggled to get out of a boat, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Joanne Aguilar, 66, visited Disneyland in August 2021 and opted to ride on a regular Jungle Cruise boat with the assistance of her daughters when park employees said that a wheelchair accessible boat wasn’t available, according to the lawsuit filed in Southern California last November.
When Aguilar was trying to exit the boat at the end of the ride the lawsuit says she lost her balance and fell back, breaking her leg.
It also alleges that employees placed at the exit of the ride to help riders out not only didn’t assist her but laughed as she struggled to get up the boat’s steps.
“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 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 says employees “placed small unsecured blocks on top of the existing steps inside the boat to reduce the height of each step” as she was exiting the boat.
“Exiting the boat was more difficult as it required her to propel her body upward with her lower legs, which due to her disability was not possible. The struggle was apparent, and Disney cast members began snickered [sic] and giggling as they watched Ms. Aguilar try to safely exit the boat,” the lawsuit says, which made Aguilar fall backwards and break her leg.
She was rushed to a hospital, underwent surgery and then spent the next five months at a rehabilitation facility She contracted an infection and died of septic shock in January of last year.
The lawsuit, which names the Walt Disney company, Disney’s theme park division and Disneyland, alleges wrongful death, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and seeks monetary damages for pain, mental suffering, humiliation, medical costs and funeral expenses.
The lawsuit was filed last November and was assigned a judge in a Santa Ana court early January.
Disney denied that it discriminated against Aguilar in any way and said that her injuries were caused by her own negligence in a written court response in late December. The company is seeking a jury trial.
Disney didn’t immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.