Weatherford Democrat

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February 15, 2013

Local man born without hands sues Six Flags over removal from ride

Weatherford patron says amusement park violated Americans with Disabilities Act

(Continued)

According to the suit, Six Flags’ Guide to Rides & Attractions said nothing about needing hands or the ability to “grasp” in order to ride what used to be known as Splashwater Falls, which has been a Six Flag staple since 1987. The old guide, filed as an exhibit with the suit, shows there were seven other rides that carried that caveat: Batman: The Ride, the Flashback (which was removed in September), Judge Roy Scream, La Vibora, the Runaway Mine Train, The Titan and the Texas Giant. But the Aquaman Splashdown came with no such restrictions.

Now it does: The suit also contains a guide that Bench and his Dallas attorney, Levi McCathern, say was written sometime after September 14. And now, in order to board the Aquaman Splashdown, it says, riders “must have one full arm and one full leg.”

But, says the suit, “The ride itself has not changed. What has changed is that Mr. Bench complained, and in response Defendant changed the policy to reflect what they incorrectly told him was the policy at the time he was kicked off the ride.”

The suit maintains Six Flags changed its policy only after Bench complained to park management after he’d been told to exit the ride.

“The policies are both over-inclusive and under-inclusive,” says the suit. “This case shows how the rides are over-inclusive. Mr. Bench – who is capable of riding every ride at Six Flags Over Texas, and who has done so many times without injury to himself or others – is now unable to enjoy the rides with his family. On the other hand, the policy is under-inclusive because it says nothing about those who have hands but choose not to hold on. There are many people who, either for extra thrill or in a silly display of bravado, keep their hands in the air for the duration of the ride. This is true even for the ‘high thrill’ rides. Nevertheless, Six Flags does not prevent these people from going on further rides.”

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