Tina Baughman fought it out in two courts, but she still can’t use a Segway to get around Disneyland. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal last week upheld Disneyland’s refusal to allow Baughman, who has muscular dystrophy, to use the two-wheeled, motorized contraption to wheel around the amusement park.
Baughman claimed the ban amounted to negligence on the part of Disney.
The state appeal court said Disney “demonstrated a Segway is an unstable two-wheeled device that could accelerate quickly, either forward or backward, and injury the rider and/or others if the rider is bumped.”
It didn’t matter that Disneyland is one of the largest buyers of Segways, used by employees in backlots to get around the park quickly, out of the view of the public.
In July 2012, she got a much more sympathetic response from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a portion of her 2007 civil suit went to address alleged violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski rejected Disney’s argument that Baughman could access “the happiest place on earth” using a wheelchair or a scooter, which the park does allow. The company said “necessary” under the ADA means the park must accommodate only a mode of transportation that a person can’t do without.
Kozinski said Disney could only exclude Segways from its theme parks if it can show they can’t be operated safely in the park.
“We have every confidence that the organization that, half a century ago, brought us the Carousel of Progress and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln can lead the way in using new technology to make its parks more welcoming to disabled guests,” Kozinski said.
Although the Fourth District decision doesn’t apply to the 9th Circuit, it sure doesn’t help Baughman.
The federal case went back to the trial court, but instead of a safety debate, Disney pointed out it had settled a Florida class action over the same issue that allowed Disney to keep the ban in place while a four-whiled alternative to the Segway is developed. The trial judge dismissed Baughman’s federal claim.
Case: Baughman v. Disney World Co., No. G046470