PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST DISNEY IN JANUARY 2015 Suits Filed in Central Florida (Orange County)

Bonham v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/17/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: Florida

Accident Location: Magic Kingdom

Type of Case: Slip and Fall

Damages: The plaintiff alleged that “plaintiff suffered bodily injury in and about her body and extremities, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, permanent and significant scarring, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of earning, loss of the ability to earn money, and aggravation of previously existing condition. The losses are either permanent or continuing and plaintiff will suffer the losses in the future.”

Burgess v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/05/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: Florida

Accident Location: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

Type of Case: Slip and Fall

Plaintiff alleges that they stepped into a hole covered by grass while camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.  They allege that, because it was covered in grass, the hole in the ground was not visible.  The plaintiff thought they were simply taking another step; instead, they stepped into a deep hole in the ground, causing injuries to their ankle and extremities.

Damages: The plaintiff alleges that they “suffered serious bodily injury resulting in a ruptured right patella tendon.”

Analysis: This case against Disney is based on an area of Florida law known as “premises liability.”  Put simply, the liability of the owner of a premise is determined by the status of the injured party; in other words, the care that the owner of a premise owes a given individual depends on the status of the individual.  Florida law classifies every individual on someone else’s premise as either a trespasser, a licensee or an invitee.  Because Disney “invites” the public to come onto their premises (basically fancy legal term for property) for the purposes of conferring an economic benefit onto Disney, individuals who go to Disney during park hours are classified as “invitees.”  Thus, Florida law requires that Disney maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition.  Furthermore, Florida law requires that Disney warn about dangers that they knew about or should have known about, and which the visitor could not or should not have known about.

Here, the plaintiff is alleging that as a camper at Fort Wilderness Campground at Disney, he was clearly a business invitee (invited onto the premises by Disney to confer an economic benefit to Disney).  Leaving a hole in the ground ostensibly covered by grass such that there is no way of telling that there is in fact a hole in the ground is a dereliction of duty — the plaintiff is alleging, then, that because Disney did not either fill the hole or put some sort of a warning as to the presence of the potentially dangerous condition, that Disney is liable for the alleged injury.

Gallego v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/30/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: California

Accident Location: Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Type of Case: Negligence of Employee

Damages: The plaintiff alleged that he “suffered bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospital and medical care and treatment, and aggravation of a previously existing condition.”

Ramirez v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/30/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: Unknown

Accident Location: Coronado Springs Resort

Type of Case: Slip and Fall

Damages: The plaintiff alleged that she “suffered permanent bodily injuries, resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care treatment and treatment, loss of earnings, loss of ability to earn money in the future and/or permanent aggravation of a previously existing condition.”

Weston v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/15/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: Unknown

Accident Location: Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Type of Case: Slip and Fall

Damages: The plaintiff alleged that they “suffered bodily injury in and about his body and extremities, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, permanent and significant scarring, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of earning, loss of the ability to earn money, and aggravation of previously existing condition.”

Analysis: This complaint does an excellent job setting out the issues.  If you’d like to read more about the broader context of the law in which it is situated (premises liability), see the above at Burgess v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. 

Wilkinson v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Filed 01/23/2015

Plaintiff’s residence: Unknown

Accident Location: All-Star Movie Resort

Type of Case: Slip and Fall

“At said time and place, Defendant, WALT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS U.S., INC. formerly Walt Disney World Hospitality & Recreation Corporation by and through their agent, servants and/or employees acting within the scope and course of such agency, service or employment, carelessly and negligently operated or maintained said premises, to wit:  The light designated for the area was not fully functioning and as a result (NAME REDACTED), fell on or about June 6, 2011 at ALL STAR MOVIE RESORT.”

Damages: The plaintiff alleged that she “was injured in and about her body and extremities, suffered pain therefrom, incurred medical treatment of such injuries, and suffered physical handicap, disability, impairment, disfigurement, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, mental anguish, lost wages and future lost wages, and the loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.

Analysis: This case is a simple claim of negligence.  To show liability for negligence, a plaintiff must show four things: duty, breach, causation and damages.  Except in special circumstances, the duty is usually that of a “reasonable person.”  We all have the duty to act towards others the way that a reasonable person would act if they were in our shoes.  A breach is when someone fails to act like a reasonable person.  That breach must also cause the injury.  Causation must be both actual and proximate.  Actual causation is sometimes known as the “but-for” test.  But for the actions of the defendant, the injury never would have occurred.  The problem, though, is that test, by itself, is too broad.  As an example, let’s say someone crashes into your car.  And let’s say that you were driving to pick up your kid early from school, because they got sick.  And let’s say they got sick because their teacher let them play on the swing right after lunch for too long.  Technically, but for the teacher letting your kid play on the swing too long after lunch, you never would have gotten into the accident.  Does that mean you can sue the teacher for your injury in the accident?
Of course not.  That’s why you also have to show proximate causation.  This is also known as the “legal cause.”  It is a question of foreseeability — was the injury that resulted the foreseeable consequence of the alleged action? So, for instance, the teacher in the above scenario is safe.  It might have been negligent for the teacher to allow your kid to swing too soon after lunch — but it probably wasn’t foreseeable that you would leave to pick him up when you did, and that while on your way someone would crash into you.  On the other hand, it IS foreseeable that if you drive negligently, you might cause an accident.  So you’re best option in the above scenario is to sue the other driver, not the teacher.
And finally, to show liability for negligence, you must show damages.  You must show some sort of harm actually occurred.  So in this case, the Plaintiff is alleging that Disney owed her the duty of a reasonable person (it’s unclear whether they are alleging a heightened duty or not, but it appears not).  They are alleging that failing to provide adequate (and normal) lighting was a breach of that duty.  They are alleging that failing to adequately light the premises caused the plaintiff to fall, and that it was a proximate cause given that it’s foreseeable that people will fall in crowded, dark rooms.  And they are alleging that as a result of the fall, Plaintiff suffered serious damage to her lower body, extremities and otherwise.