Law firm files class action lawsuit against Sesame Place following claims of racial bias

The lawsuit is seeking in excess of $25 million in damages.

Thursday, July 28, 2022
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But Malcolm Ruff, one of the attorneys, said they are representing the Burns family, a different family than the one seen in the most recent video.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Baltimore-based law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Sesame Place after another family said they were treated unfairly due to the color of their skin.

The Wednesday afternoon announcement from attorneys with Murphy, Falcon & Murphy comes following outrage over a viral video that appears to show the costumed character, Rosita, snubbing two young Black girls during a parade at the park.

But Malcolm Ruff, one of the attorneys, said they are representing the Burns family, a different family than the one seen in the viral video.

The law firm released its own video that it says shows several Sesame Place characters snubbing 5-year-old Kennedi Burns, a Black child visiting from Maryland.

The child's family says four Sesame Place characters ignored her when they visited the park on Father's Day of this year.

The lawsuit alleges that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. engages in pervasive and appalling race discrimination against children in the operation of Sesame Place Philadelphia.

The suit claims that Sesame Place violated Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which protects people against racial discrimination in the creation and enforcing of contracts. When the Burns family bought tickets, they entered a contract with the amusement park, said Ruff, and by being discriminated by costume character actors, this contract was "breached, solely because of the race of the children."

During an interview with Action News on Saturday, Cathy Valeriano, the president and general manager of Sesame Place, said the park has been looking at its internal practices, both immediate and long term.

"We are heartbroken as an organization that these girls experienced this and that's on us," she said.

Attorneys representing the Burns family have asked those who have also faced discrimination at Sesame Place to come forward.

The lawsuit is seeking over $25 million in damages.

Sesame Place released this statement to Action News Wednesday night:

"We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests."

SEE ALSO: Family demands Sesame Place do more amid racism claims, wants worker fired