900 F.3d 1270 (11th Cir. 2018), 16-12647, A.L. ex rel. D.L. v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, Inc.

Docket Nº:16-12647, 17-10143, 17-10144, 17-10148 through 17-10154, 17-10193 through 17-10196, 17-10198, 17-10199, 17-10200, 17-10202, 17-10203, 17-10205, 17-10206, 17-10207, 17-10208, 17-10209, 17-10212, 17-10213, 17-10214, 17-10216, 17-10217, 17-10218
Citation:900 F.3d 1270, 27 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. C 1192
Opinion Judge:HULL, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:A.L. BY AND THROUGH D.L., as Next Friend, Parent and Natural Guardian, S.J.K., by and through S.L.K. as Next Friend, Parent and Court-Appointed Guardian, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. WALT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS US, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Attorney:Anthony Anderson Benton Dogali, Dogali Law Group, PA, TAMPA, FL, Eugene Feldman, Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos, LLP, LOS ANGELES, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant A. L. Kerry Alan Scanlon, Jeremy White, McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, WASHINGTON, DC, Manuel Kushner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LL...
Judge Panel:Before NEWSOM and HULL, Circuit Judges, and ROYAL, Judge.
Case Date:August 17, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1270

900 F.3d 1270 (11th Cir. 2018)

27 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. C 1192

A.L. BY AND THROUGH D.L., as Next Friend, Parent and Natural Guardian, S.J.K., by and through S.L.K. as Next Friend, Parent and Court-Appointed Guardian, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

WALT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS US, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

Nos. 16-12647, 17-10143, 17-10144, 17-10148 through 17-10154, 17-10193 through 17-10196, 17-10198, 17-10199, 17-10200, 17-10202, 17-10203, 17-10205, 17-10206, 17-10207, 17-10208, 17-10209, 17-10212, 17-10213, 17-10214, 17-10216, 17-10217, 17-10218

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

August 17, 2018

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Anthony Anderson Benton Dogali, Dogali Law Group, PA, TAMPA, FL, Eugene Feldman, Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos, LLP, LOS ANGELES, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant A. L.

Kerry Alan Scanlon, Jeremy White, McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, WASHINGTON, DC, Manuel Kushner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, WEST PALM BEACH, FL, for Defendant-Appellee.

Anthony Anderson Benton Dogali, Geoffrey E. Parmer, Dogali Law Group, PA, TAMPA, FL, Eugene Feldman, Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos, LLP, LOS ANGELES, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant S.J.K.

Kerry Alan Scanlon, Jeremy White, McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, Paul I. Margulies, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, WASHINGTON, DC, Manuel Kushner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, WEST PALM BEACH, FL, Oscar Ramallo, Rhonda R. Trotter, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, LLP, LOS ANGELES, CA, Robert M. Kline, McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, MIAMI, FL, for Defendant-Appellee WALT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS US, INC.

Anthony Anderson Benton Dogali, Geoffrey E. Parmer, Dogali Law Group, PA, Domenick Giovanni Lazzara, Lee Law Group, PLLC, TAMPA, FL, Eugene Feldman, Arias Sanguinetti Stahle & Torrijos, LLP, LOS ANGELES, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant A.B., M.B., J.M., S.M., E.M., A.M.W., A.C.W., C.J.J., P.H.G., V.J.B., N.F.B., J.S.H., K.J.I., T.A.L., D.F., C.F., A.M.N., V.M.N., L.J.P., J.R.P., T.E.F., A.J.F., D.L.B., LV.F., J.T.G., B.D.G.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, D.C. Docket No. 6:14-cv-01544-ACC-GJK, et al .

Before NEWSOM and HULL, Circuit Judges, and ROYAL,[*] Judge.

OPINION

HULL, Circuit Judge:

This is a consolidated appeal of 30 separate lawsuits. Most plaintiffs-appellants are individuals with severe autism. Defendant-appellee is Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, Inc. ("Disney"), a division of The Walt Disney Company.

In separate lawsuits, plaintiffs filed claims alleging that Disney, at six of its theme parks, fails to accommodate their disabilities, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12182. Plaintiffs allege that their severe disabilities include an inability to comprehend the concept of time, defer gratification, and wait for rides, as well as strict adherence to a pre-set routine of rides in a specific order. Plaintiffs

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therefore contend that access to all of Disney’s rides must be both nearly immediate and in each plaintiff’s individual, pre-set order to accommodate fully their impairments.

Disney responds that it accommodates plaintiffs’ disabilities because its current Disability Access Service ("DAS") program allows cognitively disabled guests like the plaintiffs (1) to enter immediately all rides with waits of less than 15 minutes, which is most rides, (2) to schedule appointment times for rides with longer waits, and (3) to never have to stand in a physical line for any ride. In each case, the district court granted Disney summary judgment and concluded that the DAS program already accommodates plaintiffs’ disabilities and that revising the DAS program is not necessary for plaintiffs to have equal access and enjoyment of Disney’s parks. Our opinion is organized as follows.

CONTENTS

I. DISNEY THEME PARKS.... 1274
A. General Background.... 1274
B. FastPass System.... 1275
C. Re-admission Passes.... 1276
D. Disability Access Service Program (DAS).... 1276
E. Individualized Accommodations.... 1278
F. Advance Planning.... 1279
II. AUTISM AS A DISABILITY.... 1279
III. PLAINTIFFS’ EVIDENCE.... 1281
A. Testimony of Plaintiffs’ Parents.... 1281
B. Day-in-the-Park Narratives for Plaintiffs A.L., A.B., S.M., and J.M..... 1283
C. Expert Dr. Joette James.... 1284
D. Scientific Studies.... 1285
IV. DISNEY’S EVIDENCE.... 1286
A. Expert Dr. Jill Kelderman.... 1286
B. Expert Dr. Jack Spector.... 1287
V. PROCEDURAL HISTORY.... 1288
VI. STANDARD OF REVIEW.... 1289
VII. DISCUSSION.... 1289
A. Title III of the ADA.... 1289
B. Definition of Disability.... 1290
C. Blanket Policy.... 1290
D. Claims Based on § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii).... 1292
E. Necessary Modifications.... 1293
F. Analysis of "Necessary".... 1296
G. Reasonableness and Fundamental Alteration.... 1298
H. Intentional Discrimination Cause of Action.... 1299
VIII. CONCLUSION.... 1300
I. DISNEY THEME PARKS To evaluate plaintiffs’ claims that Disney’s DAS program does not adequately accommodate their disabilities, we discuss Disney’s parks, its pass system for accessing rides, and how the DAS program works in that context. A. General Background Disney’s six theme parks at issue include Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, both located in California; and the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which are all part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. These parks are popular vacation destinations. In 2017, the Magic Kingdom in Florida received over 20 million guests. This works out to an average of almost 55,000 visitors per day, every day of the year. The same year, Disney California Adventure, the least visited of Disney’s parks in the United States, received over 9.5 million visitors or around 26,000 per day.1 Page 1275 Each theme park contains rides and other types of attractions. For simplicity, we use the term "ride" to refer collectively to the rides and attractions that may require waiting in line before boarding. Disneyland has 46 rides; the Magic Kingdom has 40; Animal Kingdom has 39; Epcot has 29; California Adventure has 24; and Hollywood Studios has 11. The numbers of rides vary over time so these are approximate numbers. The density of the rides varies between theme parks because the parks vary greatly in geographic area.2 The parks offer activities with no lines or short lines, including parades, shows, concerts, characters, stores, and restaurants. Many rides also have no wait times. A guest can walk up and get on many rides within 5 to 10 minutes. Some popular rides,...

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