A grandmother who was arrested outside Walt Disney World is suing the happiest place on earth with the help of a well-known attorney. A North Carolina woman arrested with possession of CBD oil at Disney World, which is legal in Florida, is suing the park and the sheriff’s department. A Russian news agency is reporting that Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia for possession of cannabis oil.
Grandmother sues Disney World for millions after CBD oil arrest
ORLANDO, Fla. – A grandmother who was arrested outside Walt Disney World is suing the happiest place on earth with the help of a well-known attorney.
Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested in April after Disney security found a bottle of CBD oil while searching her purse at a security checkpoint.
According to TMZ, civil rights attorney Ben Crump just filed a lawsuit against Disney, the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of Burkhalter.
Crump is most notably known for representing the family of George Floyd. Floyd was an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis who was killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for his life.
The TMZ report reads, According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, Hester says she was arrested and detained by cops at Disney World in April 2019 — even though she claims the CBD oil was purely for medical purposes related to her arthritis and didn’t contain THC.
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.
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 humiliated because the officers allegedly made her strip down at the jail to be searched.
In the suit, Burkhalter is alleging assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, defamation and emotional distress among many others, according to Crump’s law firm.
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 May, all charges against the grandmother were dropped after prosecutors said that the case against Burkhalter wasn’t suitable for prosecution.
‘Unmerited humiliation:’ Woman sues over CBD oil arrest at Disney World
Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump announces the wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and its police department.
A North Carolina woman who was arrested at Disney World in 2019 is suing Disney and a Florida sheriff’s department in a case represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
According to a complaint filed in Orange County, Florida, last month, Hester Burkhalter, of Hickory, North Carolina, was placed under arrest by a sheriff’s deputy at Disney World in April 2019. Burkhalter, who was 69 at the time, was in possession of therapeutic CBD oil, recommended by her doctor for severe osteoarthritis in her legs.
CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp, and contains little or no THC, the active drug found in marijuana. CBD oil is legal in Florida and widely sold throughout the state, according to the complaint. Even after a field test revealed that Burkhalter’s CBD oil contained no THC, the complaint states, the sheriff’s deputy still charged her with felony narcotics possession.
Burkhalter was detained in the presence of her husband, their disabled adult daughter and two adopted children. She was then handcuffed in view of other tourists and taken to the sheriff’s office, where she was forced to strip and undergo a body cavity search. Burkhalter was released on $2,000 bail after 15 hours. The charges were dropped.
Burkhalter’s lawsuit seeks $6 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages. Her husband and three children are seeking $1 million each in compensatory damages and $3 million each in punitive damages.
In addition to Burkhalter’s arrest, the complaint says Disney employees ejected her family from the park.
“Rather than a family vacation to look back upon fondly,” the complaint says, “Disney and its security operatives in the sheriff’s office treated plaintiffs to a fifteen-hour long emotional ordeal that included Burkhalter’s improper arrest and detention on baseless felony narcotics charges, while her ailing husband, disabled adult daughter and two pre-teen children watched and waited in horror,unable to understand the circumstances or to help her, uncertain of her fate and, therefore, uncertain of their own fates as well.”
“Adding insult to injury,” the complaint continues, “Disney took the gratuitous step of summarily ejecting Hester and her family from its facilities in perpetuity as ‘trespassers,’ thereby cementing the defamatory stigma and unmerited humiliation precipitated by defendants’ disgraceful conduct.”
USA TODAY reached out to Disney World for comment. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which is named as a defendant in the complaint, said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Crump is a nationally-known attorney who has represented the families of African Americans who were killed by law enforcement. His most recent clients include the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Minneapolis man and Louisville woman who died at the hands of local police.
The killings of Floyd and Taylor have inspired months of protest by Black Lives Matter and other groups that want to see changes in law enforcement and accountability for officers who routinely use excessive force.
Though Burkhalter’s the complaint notes that most of those arrested in Florida on felony narcotics charges are Black or people of color, Burkhalter is white.
Mercury ‘closely monitoring’ after report Russians arrested Brittney Griner on cannabis oil possession charge
In the offseason, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2015. Many of the top players in the WNBA compete overseas because the money is so lucrative. (Photo by /BSR Agency/Getty Images)
PHOENIX – A WNBA player the Russian Federal Customs Service said it arrested on suspicion of smuggling liquid cannabis is Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury confirmed Saturday.
The star center was detained at an airport in February after Russian authorities found what they claimed were vape cartridges containing hashish in her luggage.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Phoenix Mercury said in a statement. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
According to Intefax, a Russian independent news agency, the Russian Federal Customs Service reported that “a U.S. citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York (when) a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.”
As officials screened it, the inspection “confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically-smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance,” the Customs Service reported.
Griner has won four titles with UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian Euroleague basketball team. The team is stacked with WNBA talent including Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot and 2021 Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones.
Griner can face five to 10 years in prison for smuggling narcotic substances on a substantial scale, according to Russia Interfax.
Given the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the WNBA said in a recent statement that they are taking measures to keep players safe.
“The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents,” the statement read. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
On Saturday, the league issued another statement, saying, “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”
Many of the WNBA’s top players compete overseas in the offseason because salaries are so lucrative. ESPN reported in 2016 that Griner was making close to $1 million that season while Taurasi brought in around $1.5 million.
The team also charters flights to away games. Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated reported that the WNBA issued a league-record $500,000 fine to the New York Liberty for traveling by charter flights during the second half of last season.