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Case Name Ault v. Walt Disney World Co. DR-FL-0003
Docket / Court 6:07-cv-01785 ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On November 9, 2007, three named plaintiffs with mobility impairments limiting their ability to walk filed this class action against Walt Disney World. They requested certification of a class of individuals who 1) suffered from a mobility disability, 2) relied upon a Segway PT for assistance with ... read more >
On November 9, 2007, three named plaintiffs with mobility impairments limiting their ability to walk filed this class action against Walt Disney World. They requested certification of a class of individuals who 1) suffered from a mobility disability, 2) relied upon a Segway PT for assistance with their mobility, and 3) had visited or intended to visit a Disney theme park. They brought suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging that Disney’s policy against allowing Segway PT two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicles into the Disney World Resort was discrimination in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The plaintiffs argued that an estimated 4,000 to 7,000 individuals with disabilities within the United States relied on Segways for mobility. Disney offered rental wheelchairs and power scooters at an additional expense, but no mobility devices that permitted the user to ride upright. The plaintiffs alleged that the option to rent a seated mobility device was inadequate for three reasons: 1) it cost the plaintiffs an additional expense, 2) wheelchair users were permitted to bring in their own mobility devices, and 3) a standing position was safer. The plaintiffs sought a permanent injunction to discontinue the policy and require Disney to allow the use of Segway PT devices by guests with disabilities . They also asked for a declaratory judgment that the prohibition violated Title III of the ADA as well as for attorneys' fees and costs.

On February 20, 2008 the court (J. Gregory A. Presnell) dismissed the suit on a motion from the defendant. The court held that under the initial complaint, the plaintiffs lacked standing because by failing to show concrete plans for future visits to Disney World, they could not show that they would experience future discrimination. The order gave the plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint. Ault v. Walt Disney World Co., 2008 WL 490581. The plaintiffs refiled on April 1, 2008.

On December 26, 2008, the parties filed a simultaneous Joint Motion for Conditional Class Certification and for Preliminary Approval of Joint Stipulation of Settlement. 2008 WL 5452909. The plaintiff submitted a Second Amended Complaint on the same day to expand the complaint to explicitly include the Disneyland Resort in California—an addition that the proposed settlement hinged on. On January 5, 2009, Judge Presnell granted these motions, conditional on the outcome of a fairness hearing. Ault v. Walt Disney World Co., 254 F.R.D. 680 (M.D. Fla. 2009).

However, on October 6, 2009, the court vacated the order that had conditionally certified the class, preliminarily approved the settlement, and dismissed the Second Amended Complaint. The court found that the evidence showed that the plaintiffs still lacked standing to represent and bind the class of Segway users with disabilities, specifically because many of them would not accept the settlement terms. The court quoted two objectors in particular, who rejected the terms of the settlement because the alternative four-wheeled device Disney proposed to provide resembled a scooter and would make their disabilities more obvious. The objectors argued that the proposed settlement actually increased stigmatization. Ault v. Walt Disney World Co., 2009 WL 3242028 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 6).

The plaintiffs appealed this decision, and on December 14, 2010, the federal Court of Appeals (Judges Charles R. Wilson, William H. Pryor, and R. Lanier Anderson) for the Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal and remanded. The Court of Appeals found that the named plaintiffs did have standing as representatives of the proposed class. The appellate court reinstated the December 26, 2008 motions and the Second Amended Complaint. Ault v. Walt Disney World Co., 405 F. App'x 401 (11th Cir. 2010).

On remand, the court issued an order approving the Class Action Settlement, and on April 25, 2011, the court issued a final judgment approving the settlement. Disney agreed to develop its own four-wheeled electric vehicle operated by a standing rider and to provide at least fifteen of these devices at the Disney Resorts. Disney also agreed to pay each of the three named plaintiffs $4,000 and to allow the named plaintiff's complimentary use of the special electric vehicles during one visit to Disney World.

The court-approved settlement awared attorneys' fees and costs totaling $60,000 to the firms representing two of the named plaintiffs. The third named plaintiff's attorneys were awarded $40,000 in a separate order.

On April 29, 2011, the objectors appealed the approval of the settlement and the grant of final judgment, claiming that the plaintiffs were not sufficiently representative of the class. The Eleventh Circuit (Judge Joel F. Dubina) denied this appeal in an opinion dated August 30, 2012, holding that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class and approving the settlement. Ault v. Walt Disney World Co., 692 F.3d 1212 (11th Cir. 2012). The objectors sought review from the Supreme Court but were denied in 2013. Miller v. Walt Disney World Co., 569 U.S. 918 (2013).

Disney introduced its Electric Standing Vehicles on May 2, 2013, charging a daily rental fee. The case is now closed.

Alex Colbert-Taylor - 05/31/2013
Elizabeth Johnson - 02/18/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reasonable Accommodation
Defendant-type
Movie Theater or Other Entertainment facility
Parks
Disability
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - privately owned
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Reasonable Accommodations
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Disney
Plaintiff Description Class of individuals with disabilities who rely on Segway PT devices and were not allowed to bring these devices into Disney World.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 2013
Filing Year 2007
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
6:07-cv-01785-GAP-KRS (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
DR-FL-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing Complaint] [ECF# 41] (2008 WL 490581) (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/20/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint] [ECF# 52] (2008 WL 2047930) (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/13/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion to Amend First Amended Complaint] [ECF# 80] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/12/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 81-2]
DR-FL-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/26/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Conditional Class Certification and Preliminary Approval of Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release [ECF# 82] (2008 WL 5452909)
DR-FL-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/26/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Class Action Settlement and Hearing [ECF# 82-3] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/26/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release [ECF# 82-2]
DR-FL-0003-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/26/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion to Amend Complaint and Granting Motion to Certify Class] [ECF# 83] (254 F.R.D. 680) (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/05/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Class Action Settlement and Fairness Hearing [ECF# 85-2] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States’ Motion for Leave to Participate as Amicus Curiae [With Exhibits] [ECF# 100]
DR-FL-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion by Individual Objectors to File Complaint and Ordering Defendant to File Notice of Compliance] [ECF# 149] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1715(b) [ECF# 165]
DR-FL-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order to Show Cause [Also Denying Motion to Stay] [ECF# 185] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Unopposed Motion by the Attorneys General of [Assorted States] for Leave to Participate as Amicus Curiae, with Memorandum of Law [ECF# 194]
DR-FL-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Vacating the Court’s Prior Order (Conditionally Certifying This Case as a Class Action and Giving Preliminary Approval to the Parties’ Settlement Agreement) and Dismissing the Second Amended Complaint] [ECF# 228] (2009 WL 3242028) (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/06/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Vacating Judgment of District Court and Remanding for Further Proceedings] [Ct. of App. ECF# 247] (405 Fed.Appx. 401)
DR-FL-0003-0021.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/27/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Vacating Second Amended Complaint and Granting Joint Motion for Confidential Class Certification and Preliminary Approval of Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Release] [ECF# 251] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/23/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Class Action Settlement [ECF# 252] (2011 WL 1460181) (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/04/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment [ECF# 254] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/25/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion for Plaintiff's Attorneys' Fees and Costs] [ECF# 262] (M.D. Fla.)
DR-FL-0003-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [11th Circuit] (692 F.3d 1212)
DR-FL-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/30/2012
Source: Justia
Notice of Certiorai Denial to DC [Ct. of App. ECF# 274]
DR-FL-0003-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dubina, Joel Fredrick (M.D. Ala., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0001
Presnell, Gregory A. (M.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0003 | DR-FL-0003-0005 | DR-FL-0003-0006 | DR-FL-0003-0008 | DR-FL-0003-0010 | DR-FL-0003-0013 | DR-FL-0003-0014 | DR-FL-0003-0015 | DR-FL-0003-0016 | DR-FL-0003-0018 | DR-FL-0003-0020 | DR-FL-0003-0022 | DR-FL-0003-0023 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Spaulding, Karla R. (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baker, John A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0002 | DR-FL-0003-0004 | DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0019 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Bates, Aaron C. (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Dempsey, Bernard H Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0002 | DR-FL-0003-0004 | DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0019 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Ferleger, David (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Johnson, Nancy A. (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Krajewski, J. Phillip (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0002 | DR-FL-0003-0004 | DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0019 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Medley, Jason M. (Texas) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0004 | DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0019 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kushner, Manuel (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0012 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Scanlon, Kerry Alan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0012 | DR-FL-0003-0019 | DR-FL-0003-9000
White, Jeremy M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0007 | DR-FL-0003-0012 | DR-FL-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Albritton, A. Brian (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0009
Breen, Philip L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0009
Feltman, Jefferey M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Geffen, David Grant (California) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Harrell, Brant (Tennessee) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Jacobs, Gretchen E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0002 | DR-FL-0003-0009
Kent, Russel S. (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0011 | DR-FL-0003-9000
King, Loretta (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0009
McCollum, Bill (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0011
White, Christopher (Florida) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-9000
Wodatch, John L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0009
Wohlenhaus, Renee M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-FL-0003-0009

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