Social Clubs at Disneyland have really exploded this decade. These social clubs are groups of 20 or more Disney fans that wear matching vests – with the Disney character that the club is named for on the back and Disney trading pins on the front – and stroll the parks together. But is it really that innocent? One Disneyland social club’s lawsuit would lead us to believe otherwise.
The lawsuit was filed with the Orange County Superior Court. In it, the head of one club has accused another of using tactics they call gangster-like to collect “protection” money for a charity fundraiser at the park.
The lawsuit was filed by the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club. The leaders of that club are alleging that they have been bullied by the leader of the White Rabbits Social Club.
The lawsuit, which lists 19 members of the White Rabbits, is bringing allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress against those named. The suit is also looking to provide compensatory and putative damages to the victims.
Also named in the suit is Disneyland itself for failing to take action against the offending club. According to a Disneyland spokeswoman, the resort has not been served with a lawsuit. She refused further comment.
In the lawsuit, John and Leslee Sarno, the founders of Main Street Fire Station 55 claim that they planned a fundraiser and memorial walk on September 11, 2016 to benefit familes of firefighters who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.
The lawsuit claims that a week before the event to was to take place John Sarno was approached by the head of the White Rabbits Social Club, Jakob Fite. Fite, and four other members of the club, demanded $500 to “protect” the event participants. According to Sarno if he didn’t pay Fite and the White Rabbits would make sure Sarno never got into the park again, the lawsuit says.
When Sarno refused to pay, it is stated in the suit that Fite and his allies began spreading malicious rumors about him on social media sites that are popular with Disneyland social clubs.
The suit also claims that Sarno’s medical information was distributed to “unauthorized users” and names Kaiser Foundation health Plan as a defendant for failing to protect this private information.
In an email from Patricia Kramer, the attorney for John and Leslee Sarno, she states that the couple “have no desire to further publicize their circumstances or to take any action that could be construed as their own re-publication of the false and defamatory statements that have been circulated by the defendants in this case.”
Source: The Orlando Sentinel
Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times