“The disgraceful events that animate this lawsuit ‘pull back the curtain’ on the casual cruelty and unpardonable ineptitude that lie at Disney’s cold corporate heart,” the lawsuit reads.
Last year, 69-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter was arrested in Disney World after police discovered CBD oil on her person. Now, with the support of powerhouse attorney Ben Crump, Burkhalter has filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. and the Orange County Sheriff.
Burkhalter is seeking a total of $18 million — $6 million for compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages. The suit also requests additional millions awarded to her family for Burkhalter’s illegal detention, false arrest, and violation of civil rights.
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According to a July 29 complaint, Burkhalter was “arrested and detained, processed as a narcotics felon and strip-searched a harmless, entirely blameless American great-grandmother, whose only ‘crime’ was her desire to lessen crippling osteoarthritic pain with a doctor-recommended hemp-based oil, while giving her family, including a disabled adult daughter and two adopted pre-teen children, an enjoyable vacation at the ‘Disney World’s entertainment complex near Orlando.
“The disgraceful events that animate this lawsuit ‘pull back the curtain’ on the casual cruelty and unpardonable ineptitude that lie at Disney’s cold corporate heart,” the lawsuit adds.
Burkhalter went through security at Magic Kingdom on April 15 and was asked to remove the content of her bags. That included a one-ounce bottle of CBD oil, which a doctor had recommended to Burkhalter to treat her advanced arthritis.
When Burkhalter responded that she did not know if the bottle contained any THC—though the label did claim 0% on the label — a sheriff’s deputy tested the substance. The first test result was negative but a second testing result was positive, the complaint states, and caused Burkhalter to be placed under arrest. During transportation, she vomited in the car and was subjected to drug-sniffing dogs.
“It’s one thing for Disney to say because she had CBD, she was not allowed to come onto their property,” Crump said on a press call. “It is another thing entirely to have law enforcement arrest her and put her in jail for 12 hours after she told them the oil was recommended by her doctor for medical reasons.”
“It is disgraceful that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department would treat this cherished grandmother like a common criminal in front of her family and have her children ask, ‘Why would Mickey Mouse arrest grandma?’” he added.
Crump is also representing the family of Breona Taylor and George Floyd, two Black Americans killed at the hands of police. He was previously involved in high-profile cases regarding the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.