Preliminary Segway Settlement Announced

A preliminary settlement was announced last month in a lawsuit brought against Disney by three disabled Segway users. The lawsuit, which was filed in US District court in Orlando, claimed that Disney violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by prohibiting the use of Segway scooters within their parks. Disney’s defense was that it was a safety issue, as Segways can go over 12 mph and may present a danger to other visitors.

Well, it appears that the parties have come to a compromise on the matter. The settlement allows Disney to continue their ban on Segways. In return, they have agreed to develop their own four-wheeled electrically powered stand-up scooter, and make it available for guests with disabilities to rent at their parks. A cash settlement, which can be applied to a visit to a Disney Park, was also offered to the three plaintiffs in the case. The named plaintiffs will also be given free use of the new scooter, on their next visit to a Disney park.

This proposed settlement will become final once it’s approved at a fairness hearing on March 31, 2009.

On the surface it seems like a fair compromise; however many disabled Segway-users are enraged over it, and they plan to object to the settlement. Their basic objection is that they should be allowed to use their Segways in the park, because like many other mobility devices, they are personalized to an individual’s needs.

Will the settlement be approved? Hard to say, as the Segway-users are a small but vocal group.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the DOJ is also wrestling with the issue of whether to include Segways in the definition of assistive devices under the ADA. It’s quite possible that one decision will effect the other.

Stay tuned.