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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

(MCT) – A Weatherford man is suing Six Flags Entertainment Corp. in Dallas federal court, claiming the Grand Prairie-based amusement-park operator violated the Americans With Disabilities Act last summer when it refused to let him ride the Aquaman Splashdown at Six Flags Over Texas because he has no hands.

According to the suit filed Tuesday, when he was a child Clint Bench’s arms “stopped forming at the distal ends of the radius and ulna,” and as a result, “he has no fully formed hands.” Regardless, says the suit, he’s gone on to lead a normal life: He went to college, got a degree, got married, got a job and is now raising two kids of his own.

“He has lived his entire life with this condition,” says the suit, “and has never needed or even desired the assistance of prosthetics.”

Says the suit, Bench “is a physically fit, healthy adult with great upper body strength. He can perform all manners of activities, including activities that one would normally assume would require the use of hands. For example, he can do pull-ups and he enjoys such activities as water skiing and mountain biking. Mr. Bench also has surprising manual dexterity.

He can write, type, tie his shoes, use a cell telephone, and fire a gun.”

He also enjoys the thrill of a good amusement-park ride, says the suit – something he’s done often, both at the Arlington Six Flags and other parks owned and operated by the company. Which is why in March of last year he bought three season passes to Six Flags Over Texas, where he rode whatever he wanted – and whatever he was able to ride – till May 2012.

That, he says, is when he boarded the Aquaman Splashdown, only to be told by a Six Flags employee to exit the ride “because he does not have hands.” The complaint says “this caused Mr. Bench considerable embarrassment, as his children had never seen anybody discriminate against him due to his lack of natural hands.”

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