About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

Legal Disclaimer (because, you know, I'm a lawyer)

This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Disney Probably Won't Have To Allow Segways ... But What About Other Parks & FEC's?

The Ninth Circuit's decision in Baughman v. Walt Disney World, Inc., has gotten a lot of attention over the last couple of weeks. Disability advocacy groups are touting it as a big win for accessibility.  However, I do not really see it that way.  In fact, as I've already written, I think this was the WRONG case for the Ninth Circuit to have even reached the issue, given that Ms. Baughman can't seem to decide whether she uses a wheelchair because she cannot stand or uses a Segway because she cannot sit.  But, putting that aside, I also do not think the case will ultimately result in Disney being required to allow Segways in its parks.  The bigger question is what, if any, effect the decision might have on other parks and family entertainment centers - particularly those that lack the seemingly limitless resources of Disney.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Outrageous Reason The Disneyland Segway Ruling Should Never Have Occurred

On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California issued a ruling in a case called Baughman v. Walt Disney World ordering Disney to study the use of Segways at Disneyland.  The opinion is rather glib from start to finish.  Its opening line:  “Segways at Disneyland?  Could happen.”  Its ending line:  a quote from Walt Disney himself, “Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world.”  While I seriously doubt that Walt was talking about the possibility of never-ending accessibility modifications under federal regulations, the bottom line is that the Court ordered Disney to determine whether “Segways can’t be operated safely in its parks.”  Whether Disney, the industry, or I agree with the Court’s legal analysis of the ADA or not is, at this point, largely irrelevant – in all likelihood, it is not going to change.  However, I did want to address a genuine and disturbing issue that this case raises; one that I have seen no coverage about or commentary on in any of the media reporting on this story:  the fact that, in issuing this decision, the Ninth Circuit essentially condoned the practice of abusive ADA litigation brought by plaintiffs who may, or may not, actually have the disability they claim. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Most Important Amusement Industry Lawsuit In Years May Have Just Been Filed In California

Do disabled guests have an absolute right to ride amusement rides under the Americans with Disabilities Act?  That's the question posed in what could be one of the most significant amusement-related lawsuits to be filed in years.  Assuming this suit does not settle, and this is the kind of suit that might not, the result of this lawsuit could have significant ramifications on our industry from both a liability perspective and a guest-service perspective.  It could affect the way rides are designed and manufactured.  It could affect operational protocols and procedures.  In short, I do not believe it is an understatement to say that this is a lawsuit that every member of our industry needs to watch.  It is one of the rare legal decisions that could equally impact the day-to-day operations of a small FEC and a huge multi-park resort.  It is potentially that big.