ORLANDO, Fla. – A grandmother who was arrested outside Walt Disney World after having CBD oil on property is suing the theme park company -- and she’s taking her case to federal court.
Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested in April 2019 after Disney security found a bottle of CBD oil while searching her purse at a security checkpoint. She has since filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney World, with her team of attorneys requesting to move the case out of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County and move it to a higher court.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Burkhalter and filed the suit against the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Crump is most notably known for representing the family of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
In the suit, Burkhalter is alleging assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment and defamation and emotional distress, according to Crump’s law firm.
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She is requesting more than $18 million in damages, plus additional damages, for her husband and other family members who were vacationing at the theme park with her.
In the suit, Burkhalter says it was humiliating to be taken into custody outside of Disney in front of her children and grandchildren, all of whom were visiting from North Carolina. She and her team of lawyers have requested to move her case out of Florida since she doesn’t live there and Walt Disney World is not headquartered in the area.
Burkhalter went on to state that she panicked while being placed in the back of a police car and began vomiting. She claims that she was denied medical attention and subjected to a miserable 15-hour ordeal.
The grandmother added that she was further humiliated because the officers allegedly made her strip down at the jail to be searched.
Disney does not allow marijuana or marijuana-like substances on its properties. CBD oil is extracted from the flowers of marijuana plants, but it doesn’t produce a high. Burkhalter said she had a doctor’s note saying it was prescribed for her arthritis.
All charges against her were dropped in May.