Family sues Hazlet movie theater; claims son with autism was humiliated, discriminated against

Toni Yates Image
Thursday, July 27, 2023
NJ mom sues movie theater after manager kicked her and autistic son out
NJ movie theater manager kicked a mother and her autistic son out, so the mom decided to sue. Reporter Toni Yates has more.

HAZLET, New Jersey (WABC) -- An outraged mother in New Jersey is suing a movie theater after a fun night out with her son with autism ended with a police escort out of the building.

On June 16, Christine Gallinaro and her 15-year-old son John was kicked out of Cinemark's Hazlet 12 movie theater.

Gallinaro's husband wasn't there so, she had to take John, who is nonverbal, to relieve himself.

"So, I took him to the ladies' bathroom, which I always do, and I escort him to the stall, and then he goes in and does his thing, and then he comes out and I escort him to the sink," she said.

Gallinaro says by their expressions and smiles, others in the restroom understood John needed his mom's help. Except, she says, the theater manager, who spotted them and acted aggressively.

"She gave him a very nasty look, and rolled her eyes and she was looking at him," Gallinaro said. "So, he put his head down, walked past me, he felt bad. I'm his mom, I'm standing right there, so naturally I'm going to ask her if there is a problem. To which she replied, 'yes he should not be in this bathroom.' I whispered to her 'he is disabled,' she stood her ground, she didn't care."

In fact, security was called and then the police.

The Gallinaro's have filed a lawsuit.

"It's absolutely outrageous, bizarre, I don't know what was going through this woman's mind," said Armen Mcomber, the Gallinaro's attorney. "When you have an obvious disabled child just trying to use the bathroom with some dignity and some respect just trying to see a movie with his mom, this is what they're subject to?"

Christine Gallinaro said a Cinemark regional manager reached out, but it was too late because the humiliation was just too much.

"He was sent a message that he did something wrong," Gallinaro said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Cinemark but have not heard back.

Gallinaro says her son has let her know he doesn't want to go to Cinemark ever again.


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