A woman sued the Walt Disney Co. today, alleging that negligence by the operators of the Monsters Inc., Mike and Sulley to the Rescue! ride caused her handicapped son to fall out of his wheelchair and be injured.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also alleged that park employees told Ruth Sisson that they could not help get her son, Justin Graves, to a hospital because the two were visitors, but not guests at one of the Disney properties.
A Disney representative did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
The suit states that Sisson and her 27-year-old son, both from Powderly, Texas, and other family members visited Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim on April 26. Graves suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, is completely paralyzed and communicates only through facial expressions, according to the complaint. He also relies on a ventilator to breathe and the device was in place when he boarded the Monsters, Inc. attraction, the suit states.
Graves’ relatives moved him onto one of the attraction’s cars, but the metal bar designed to keep riders from falling out could not be lowered all the way down and no additional straps were available, the suit alleges.
A Disney employee without warning moved the cars forward so that other passengers could board, but the impact caused Graves to be “launched from his wheelchair underneath the steel pole that had not been properly engaged,” the suit states.
Graves “ended up being crushed into the bottom of the car with no means of escape,” the suit alleges.
Sisson, who witnessed her son’s fall, and other family members helped him back onto his wheelchair, the suit states. His ventilator had fallen out and he suffered a broken left leg, a nose bleed and a scratch on his head, according to the lawsuit.
After Disney staff members allegedly told Graves’ family members the park could not aid in his transportation to a hospital, the 46-year-old Sisson drove her son to UCI Medical Center in Orange, according to the complaint. Doctors said he could not wear a cast on his leg because of his condition and the risk of an infection, the lawsuit states.
After Graves returned with his family to Texas, an orthopedic surgeon informed Graves that his leg would heal slowly and that it may never be the same again because of his neurological disorder, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges the Monsters, Inc. operators should have made sure he was properly secured in his car.
“Had simple safety precautions been adhered to in this case an avoidable injury, like the one experienced by Mr. Graves, would not have occurred,” according to the complaint.
The Monsters, Inc. ride opened in January 2006.