(PHILADELPHIA – August 4, 2022) – Legendary trial and civil rights attorney William “Billy” Murphy Jr. and Malcolm Ruff of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, Martell Harris of the Trial Law Firm, and Jason Duncan of Duncan Legal Group announced last Thursday the filing of a class action lawsuit against the owners and operators of Sesame Place Philadelphia, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Inc. and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment LLC, for discriminatory practices against African American children.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleges that costumed Sesame Street characters, “Elmo,” “Ernie,” “Telly Monster,” and “Abby Cadabby” wrongfully refused to engage with African American children during “Meet and Greet” events, intentionally discriminating against the youngsters, while, at the same time, shaking hands, hugging and high-fiving white children.
“The behavior of Sesame Place’s costumed park workers is reprehensible. Class members, some as young as 5 years old, adore these characters, and to be shunned by them so brazenly will have a lasting negative affect on their sense of self-worth. Sadly, discriminatorily behavior like this knows no bounds and can target even the most innocent,” said Murphy.
The lawsuit alleges class representatives, Quinton Burns and his five-year-old daughter, Kennedi, traveled from Baltimore to Sesame Place Philadelphia to celebrate Father’s Day, June 18, at the fun park only to be ignored by costumed characters during “Meet and Greet” events along with other African American guests. These same costumed park workers readily engaged with white patrons, according to the lawsuit.
The class action lawsuit comes on the heels of recent viral video clips depicting nearly identical behavior directed towards other Black youth at the park. The lawsuit seeks $25,000,000.00 in damages from the owners and operators of Sesame Place for civil rights violations, breach of contract and other causes of action on behalf of the class, which includes “[a]ll African American persons who entered contracts with SeaWorld for admission into Sesame Plaine Philadelphia from July 25, 2018, until the present, and who suffered disparate treatment from SeaWorld and/or its agents and/or employees, by their refusal to interact with African American children while openly interacting with similarly situated white children.”
Murphy, Falcon & Murphy is a Baltimore-based law firm specializing in complex civil, criminal, and civil rights litigation. Our powerhouse legal team has a history of unrelenting dedication to its clients in Baltimore and across the country. Our team of seasoned trial lawyers has extensive experience in a wide variety of cases with success rates that dwarf national averages and is dedicated to providing smart strategies and creative approaches to complex litigation. Our team is driven and strategy-focused —characteristics that have helped us secure more than $900 million in verdicts and settlements, including over $75 Million in police cases throughout the country. Our attorneys have won some of the largest verdicts in high-profile, high-stakes cases in some of the toughest jurisdictions around the country. The firm represented Freddie Gray, Jr. and William H. Green, achieving historic settlements of $6.4 million and $20 million, respectively, for federal and state civil rights violations that led to their deaths.
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