Disneyland Employees Accused of Laughing at Disabled Woman Before Injury That Led to Her Death

Disneyland is facing legal action over members of its staff's alleged treatment of a disabled woman.

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the daughters of 66-year-old Joanne Aguilar accuse park employees of laughing at their mother moments before she was injured exiting a ride. According to the complaint, she died five months later after contracting an infection — leading to septic shock — during her recovery.

The Anaheim theme park has since denied the accusations and responded in a California U.S. District Court filing that it exercised its duty of care and that any injuries were "caused or contributed" by Aguilar or her daughters, who they claim were aware of the risks.

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Reps and attorneys for Disneyland did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

While recovering from a knee injury, Aguilar visited the park with her family on Aug. 22, 2021, upon which employees provided her with a wheelchair through the park's Disability Access Service.

Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise

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Attorneys for Agulair's daughters, Andrea Mallul and Zenobia Hernandez, claim that the Jungle Cruise ride's wheelchair-accessible boats were not available, although Disney workers still allowed them to use another boat.

The Ventura County woman was able to get onto the boat with the help of her daughters, but the lawsuit says that she had trouble exiting the ride at the end and staff "failed to assist her," creating a "dangerous and hazardous condition."


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The complaint claims that "cast members began snicker[ing] and giggling" while watching her struggle. As she "began to feel the shame and embarrassment of the situation and felt dehumanized," Aguilar allegedly lost her balance and fell back with her full weight, breaking her right leg.

According to the complaint, Aguilar was transported to Anaheim Global Medical Center, where she spent 10 days recovering before undergoing rehabilitation at Oxnard Manor Healthcare Center. Her daughters claim she contracted an infection there, which led to septic shock and her subsequent death on Jan. 29, 2022.

The lawsuit seeks compensation in the form of "all past economic damages," including medical, funeral, and attorney fees, as well as other incidental damages.