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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 29th, 2013
06:20 PM ET

Man trapped inside a Disney ride gets $8,000

Strap yourself in, lock the restraint and hang on: the ride is about to begin.

But none of the safety devices which prevent riders from falling off at the theme park would have helped Jose Martinez.

Instead, he found himself stranded on Disney’s “It’s a Small World” for a half hour in 2009 when the ride malfunctioned – leaving him stuck while that brain-piercing melody played over, and over, and over again.

"I could have a stroke,” he said during the incident, according to court documents. “I have dysreflexia. It's very serious, and I need to go to a bathroom."

In addition to the dysreflexia, Martinez is quadriplegic and prone to panic attacks. The situation was serious.

“It’s a condition that, Jake, that people like myself with chronic spinal cord injuries suffer when your bladder extends to incredible amounts,” he said Friday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

A California court awarded him $8,000 this week after suffering through that episode. A doctor testified before the court that the condition could make an individual fear for his life.

Judge James Selna suggested that the settlement could have been more if he had suffered long-term health issues, or the ordeal had gone on longer.

“I do not wish to diminish the extent of pain and anxiety that Mr. Martinez experienced during those approximate three hours, but it was a relatively brief episode,” the federal judge said. “He did not go to the hospital. He did not want to go. He did not accept paramedic assistance. And by the time he left, his blood pressure had returned to normal.”

Martinez’s lawyer, David Geffen, said on CNN that the park knew the ride could malfunction and should have warned riders.

“I thought perhaps there were warnings they should have given him in anticipation of this problem that would have prevented the problem in the first place,” he said. “And that is what the court found to be true - that they were aware of the "Small World" ride breaking down, that they had developed a policy to warn people of the ride breaking down - especially people with disabilities who can’t evacuate - and they were not following their own policy.”

That experience might deter some from going back to the park again, but not Martinez. He returned the day before he took his argument to court.

“The answer is we, my wife and I, went back again the day before the trial,” he said, “and ironically the same ride ... just to check it out, see if everything was working fine - the ride was completely down and had a major breakdown.”

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