grandmother arrested in florida for cbd oil

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (WESH/CNN) – A great-grandmother who was arrested for having CBD oil at Magic Kingdom last year has filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company.

Hester Burkhalter is being represented by attorney Benjamin Crump, who announced the lawsuit during a press conference on Wednesday.

The then 69-year-old Burkhalter, of North Carolina, was arrested April 15, 2019, for having oil that was labeled “Select CBD” in her purse. Burkhalter said the oil she had did not contain THC and said she was made to feel like a criminal.

“Every time I think about it, or talk about it, I get real nervous, sick to my stomach. I just don’t feel well,” she said.

Crump said Hester was using the CBD oil per her doctor’s recommendation to treat her advanced arthritis.

Prosecutors dropped a drug charge against Burkhalter, saying it wasn’t suitable for prosecution. Burkhalter spent 12 hours in jail before she was released on bond. While detained for 15 hours, Burkhalter said she threw up and was strip-searched.

“It affects you when something like this just, you know having to take off our clothes in front of people, it affects me,” she said.

Crump said she has given Disney many chances to make it up to the Burkhalter family. He called this a civil rights cases and said the company should have to pay to make up for the humiliation Burkhalter endured.

“Disney remained silent,” he said. “They need to compensate this family to send the message that this was wrong.”

The lawsuit will allege Burkhalter was wrongfully arrested and is asking for a combined total of at least $138 million.

Last May, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said the arrest was lawful and Disney said the incident was a law enforcement matter.


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Attorneys file lawsuit for great-grandmother arrested at Walt Disney World for having CBD oil

A North Carolina grandmother is suing Disney after she arrested last year when park security found a bottle of CBD oil in her possession.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Attorneys announced on Wednesday that they have filed a lawsuit against Disney more than a year after a great-grandmother from North Carolina was arrested at the Magic Kingdom for having CBD oil in her bag.  

FOX 35 News broke the story in May of last year.  

High-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is also representing the family of the late George Floyd, said that he has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hester Burkhalter.

Burkhalter, 69, was handcuffed and hauled to jail after security officers at Disney found a bottle of CBD oil in her bag. She said she was on a trip with her adopted children when it happened.

Attorneys file lawsuit for grandmother who was arrested at Disney for having CBD oil

The attorneys have filed the lawsuit more than a year after the incident happened.

“I have really bad arthritis in my legs, arms, and my shoulder, and I use it for the pain because it helps,” Burkhalter explained in an interview with FOX 35 in 2019. She was thrown in jail on a felony for 12 hours but the charge was later dropped.

Weeks after the incident, Crump held a news conference in Orlando with Burkhalter’s family, threatening to sue. At the time, the attorneys claimed illegal detention, false arrest, and a violation of her civil rights.

“If they want to avoid further legal ramifications over this horrific incident, they need to take ownership, sit down with this family and try to repair the harm,” Crump said last year.

Crump’s team announced on Wednesday that they are moving forward with legal action against Disney.  The law firm said Burkhalter, “was wrongfully arrested and taken into custody at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for possessing federally legal CBD oil.”

"Disney’s stated mission is to make everyone’s dreams come true. Instead, they turned a harmless grandmother’s expensive Disney vacation into a nightmare by treating her like a criminal with the full participation of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office," the law team said. "We have given Disney and Orange County several chances to own their mistakes and make this right. The arrogance, complacency and lack of corporate responsibility demonstrated by these organizations demand correction and justice.”

In a virtual news conference on Wednesday, both Crump and Burkhalter spoke. 

"She was treated like a common criminal because she had medical issues but still wanted to take her [children] for a lifelong dream that they have saved for two years. They came from North Carolina to try to fulfill the wishes of their young [children] and these loving grandparents were humiliated," Crump explained. "Disney World lacks two things: common sense and common decency in how they treat people. It is entirely outrageous that Disney World would discriminate against people who have medical conditions that don't respond to common pain relievers."

"It was the most humiliating day of my life," Burkhalter added. "Every time I think about it a whole lot, or talk about it a whole lot, I get sick to my stomach and just don't feel well. It affects you when something like this — having to take off your clothes in front of people. It affects me. I have dreams, can't sleep sometimes."

She also detailed that she had a panic attack in a patrol car and stepped outside of it to vomit. She asked for an ambulance but was told to just get back inside the patrol car. Even after being released, she was banned from returning to Disney property. So, her husband said that he had to leave her and their kids at a McDonalds while he gathered their belongings from the resort that they were staying at. The trespass against has since been lifted.

"I would have liked for the kids to have enjoyed it that day. Or to possibly — you know, the little kids, it's hard for them to understand that they can't go to Disney when they want to go. You know they still will say they want to go. It's hard for them to understand all of this stuff and they see things on TV about things that they want to do and things that they couldn't do," Burkhalter explained.


At the time of her arrest, CBD oil was considered illegal under state statute. That has since changed in Florida.

Disney has not responded to our request for comment.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.

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The complaint slammed Disney and the Sheriff’s office for their alleged misconduct.

"Defendants Disney and uniformed local law enforcement officials acting at its direction and under its authority as a Florida landowner . arrested and detained, processed as a narcotics felon and strip-searched a harmless, entirely blameless American great-grandmother," the complaint said.

"The disgraceful events that animate this lawsuit 'pull back the curtain' on the casual cruelty and unpardonable ineptitude that lie at Disney's cold corporate heart."