Amputees sue Universal Studios Hollywood for being denied access to roller coaster

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Two men who say they were barred from riding a roller coaster at Universal Studios Hollywood because they are missing limbs have sued the theme park. The suit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, contends the men were kept off the ride in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read more from The LA Times.

Is it a stretch to think that in the future rides will be federally mandated to accommodate people with any possible disability?

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED

Or will they simply stop building rides?

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"

What a catch 22. Deny people a ride due to missing arms or legs, and they sue you. Allow those same people to ride and something happens to them, their family sues.

I know each situation is different, but if I were Universal, I'd take the former.

Just a difficult situation for everyone involved.

OhioStater's avatar

Retrofitting rides to accommodate every type of amputee would cost an arm and a leg.

Too soon.

rollergator's avatar

Given the countless discussions we've had about SFMM re: Revulsion and Knott's re: eyeglass's safe to say that the phrase "manufacturer's recommendations" will feature prominently, and repeatedly, in the legal arguments to follow.

robotfactory said:

Too soon.

Not soon enough

sws's avatar

This is one the parks just can't win.

Last edited by sws,
LostKause's avatar

I don't have anything to add except that OhioStater's post is one of the funniest posts I have ever read on CoasterBuzz.

Last edited by LostKause,

If it's true that these riders used to be allowed but are not now, then I'd wonder whether they do have an arguable case.

Separately, I'm not sure why any ride operating with lap bars would require you to have arms. Legs, yes; arms, no - lets face it, a lot of able bodied riders never grip the lap bar when riding.

Anyone else having some serious déjà vu?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

You would think a coaster manufacturer could fabricate some sort of vest for amputees to wear which would hold someone in the seat securely. Doesn't seem too difficult, given the cost of a law suit.

Jeff's avatar

It is difficult, because it would make deciding who is adequately restrained even more difficult, and worse, leave that decision in the hands of minimum-wage ride operators.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

janfrederick's avatar

I wonder if they will be required create a separate "virtual" experience for those who can't ride (won't even go into weight issues) like they did when they rebuilt the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
bjames's avatar

Someone needs to smack some sense into our country, this sort of abuse of the legal system is far too acceptable these days.

First it was the NFL getting sued by players that allegedly didn't know they could get hurt playing football. Then it was the obese people suing hotels (and winning) for not offering swimming pool elevators so that they can be lowered into the water. Now disabled people smell the blood in the water and are going after mechanical rides.

In 50 years we won't have any forms of entertainment left. We'll have blind people suing cinemas for not offering films that they can enjoy. People that need oxygen tanks are going to sue airlines, people with pacemakers are going to sue water parks, and on and on. So everything will just be banned.

The government can't legislate life into being fair. And when they try, it only results in a lowered standard of living for everyone else.

^Well said.

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.

I'm wondering how "new" the policy is. If the man claims he has ridden it before and the park is using the "It's a new policy approach", then it isn't necessairly something the manufacturer or park set forth when the ride opened. Of course I realize that new policies and procedures are developed all the time whether it comes from the park or designer to continue to ensure guest safety and satisfaction. If this gets to court, this will become a talking point for his defense....who knows if it will impact his case or not.

But the heart of the matter....consistency, consistency, consistency! It's hard for the average guest to understand these changes. "If I rode it in 2007, 2008, 2009....ect I don't understand why I can't ride it in 2012?!?"

I saw this all too often when working at Six Flags....workers who let the guidelines slide just a little bit and then would leave and you'd be stuck with an irate person who couldn't understand why they could ride earlier and now can't. If anything, this could very well be the issue they are coming across.

Bobbie1951's avatar

I strongly support the rights of the disabled, but this is clearly over the top. I am not familiar with this particular roller coaster so cannot comment on whether the restraints would be adequate for someone missing limbs, but in general I find that a lap bar, even in combination with a seat belt, would be an inadequate restraint for someone missing two legs. There is no way that someone without legs could safely ride a coaster like Millennium Force, Nitro or Bizarro at Six Flags New England. On coasters with that much airtime, it's easy to slide forward in the seat and if you don't have any legs what's to stop you from sliding out altogether? Look what happened to that unfortunate double amputee who fell to his death off the coaster at Darien Lake. As to missing arms, it's true that a great many people ride without holding onto anything but on some rides it's difficult not to. Someone missing both arms would have a difficult time on Maverick because the ride is so rough. So I think that safety considerations have to take precedence over what people perceive as their civil rights.


There are some passionate comments to this story, but I think you're missing one important point. What is the written and stated policy for safe riding of this attraction? That's going to be key for the lawsuit.

I had a similar issue last week at Legoland in Florida, my daughter is missing a hand, and one of the ride operators decided she was no longer able to ride. Never mind this is on project X, a mouse type coaster, and that she'd been on twice that day, and 10 times before that. My biggest issue, and the one I had a nice chat with guest services about, is that nowhere in the ride safety information, or the park's disabilities guide did it state anything about needing two hands. She was allowed to ride after a 25 minute wait for a manager.

I feel for the operators and the parks in general, missing a hand below the elbow is much different than missing an arm at the shoulder. Same goes for the leg, so how do you put in a policy to cover such a wide array of possible scenarios?

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