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.

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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, January 19, 2014

GameChanger? (Part 2) - Can Ride Owners Rely On Manufacturer's Recommendations To Satisfy The ADA?

In my last piece, I told you about a recent ruling from the District Court for the Central District of California in a case called Castelan v. Universal Studios which granted judgment in Universal’s favor in a case alleging violation of the ADA brought by two disabled guests that were not permitted to ride The Mummy because they did not meet the minimum ride requirements of one functioning arm / hand and one functioning leg.  The court premised its ruling on two independent grounds.  The first, which was the subject of my last piece, was that the ADA did not require amusement ride access to guests with disabilities.  That part of the ruling is, in my opinion, as questionable as it potentially game-changing and should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt for the time being.  But the second basis for the court’s judgment was both exactly what I would have argued in Universal’s place and finally gives us some long awaited guidance.  So, let’s talk about that one and what it could mean for the industry moving forward.  A little preview – This holding might not be perfect, but I think it has a lot more legs than the first one.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

GameChanger? California Court Holds Disabled Access To Amusement Rides Not Required By The Americans With Disabilities Act

In July 2012, I told you about a lawsuit filed against Universal Studios Hollywood that I described at the time as “the most important industry lawsuit in years” and “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.”  The case was Castelan v. Universal Studios, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Why was it such a big deal?  Because it was poised to be the first case to squarely put at issue the extent to which the Americans With Disabilities Act requires amusement facilities to allow ride access to disabled guests.  The ADA has been around for more than two decades, but surprisingly there are no cases that have spoken to this particular issue.  On January 10, the court issued a ruling granting judgment in favor of Universal Studios finding, essentially, that an operator of an amusement ride may exclude disabled guests for virtually any reason without violating the ADA.  The decision is remarkable in that it flies in the face of long standing consensus belief  – even in the amusement industry – about the ADA.  Is it a game changer for the amusement industry?  Could be.  But don’t everyone get too excited just yet.