The city of La Mirada reached a settlement of a claim brought on behalf of a 7-year-old diabetic boy whose family was allegedly told he could not take his own meals into the city's aquatic center in 2017 because of a policy against bringing in outside food, court papers obtained Wednesday show.
The settlement includes policy changes that will allow the boy and others with dietary restrictions to bring in outside food into the Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center and an agreement by the city to train employees to be sensitive to visitors with such health issues, according to a petition filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday by lawyers for the Disability Rights Legal Center.
When the boy and his family tried to enter the aquatics center in July 2017, their bags were searched and his mother was told by the staff that no outside food was allowed, even though she explained that the items were only for her son and compatible with his diabetes, the petition states.
The boy's mother was allowed to store the food she brought in a locker, but said the staff told her that if her son wanted to eat it, he would have to go to a nearby park or eat in their car. By early that afternoon, the boy's blood-sugar level had dropped to an unsafe level, so his mother told his grandmother to get the food from the locker and begin feeding him right away, the petition says.
Although a city official later allowed the boy to finish his meal within the park, she told his family to let her know when it was time for his next meal so she could "provide them with an approved location to eat," according to the petition.
"As a result of this settlement, (the boy) will be able to bring outside food into Splash! and now has a chance of enjoying the water park without worrying about his disability-related dietary needs," the petition states.
The resolution is subject to approval by a probate court judge. A hearing is scheduled Feb. 27.
As part of the settlement, the city must provide Ethan's counsel with verification that the employee trainings have occurred, according to the petition. The city also has agreed to publish its new outside food policy on its website, and signs outside the Splash! entrance will include a statement letting visitors know that outside food is allowed to patrons with dietary food restrictions, DRLC lawyers said.
The boy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 2 years old, the petition states. His claim was filed with the city last December.