A movie theater reportedly told a disabled man to leave the premises half way through a film because his ventilator was “too noisy.”
Richard Bridger, 31, suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and needs a ventilator to help him breathe. He decided to visit the Odeon Cinema in Epsom, Surrey, on Saturday night to watch "Taken 3" with his caretaker and both were reportedly shocked at what happened 40 minutes into the movie. Sources say six out of 200 people watching the film reportedly complained about the noise Bridger’s ventilator was making, reports the Daily Mail, which prompted an employee to ask the young man and his caretaker to leave the theater.
Staff also reportedly asked them not to visit the theater again on a crowded weekend night.
Bridger’s father Steve called the treatment of his son “disgusting” and said his ventilator is no noisier than a bag of potato chips or crunching popcorn. He said the theater’s staff didn’t apologize and simply gave him a refund when his son’s caretaker asked for one, reports the Evening Standard.
“Richard has been going to the cinema since it opened and, in the last four years, has required the use of the ventilator to keep his carbon dioxide levels down which can be life-threatening if they are raised too high,” Steve Bridger said. “All he wanted to do was go out and watch a film and it takes a lot of organization to arrange for Richard to go out. I find it disgusting that, in this age, a person who is mentally capable -- Richard has 14 GCSEs and a degree -- but relies on life-saving equipment, should be treated in this way. This is total discrimination. Odeon doesn’t take disability seriously enough.”
Bridger says he complained to the Odeon but was told by its general manager that he stands by his staff’s decision.
A spokesperson at Odeon had the following to say about the matter: “We sincerely apologize for the way this matter was handled and for the upset it caused. We are inviting Mr. Bridger and his son to return and enjoy Taken 3 at any time as guests of Odeon Epsom.”