Welcome Above the Law readers (Sea World killer whale lawsuit?)

by Walter Olson on February 25, 2010

Reporting on possible legal angles arising from a veteran trainer’s death, the popular blog links to this post of ours from last year about how Florida amusement and theme parks appear to be aggressive and successful in defending against litigation.

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One whale of a disconnect | Likelihood of Success
02.26.10 at 12:53 pm

{ 13 comments }

1 VMS 02.25.10 at 8:00 pm

There is no liability from this incident as a matter of law, no matter how negligent the theme park may have been by keeping an animal with a known propensity to attack. The trainer who was killed was an employee of the theme park, and is limited to Workman’s Comp. recovery. The patrons of the park have no cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress because none was in the “zone of danger” and closely related to the decedent.

Think about it. If the law were to allow recovery by complete strangers witnessing blood and gore who themselves were not at risk of physical injury, then anyone who witnessed a bad car accident and was emotionally distressed by what they saw could sue. The classic reducio ad absurdum justification given to torts classes is whether the millions who watched Ruby shoot Oswald live on national television would have a cause of action.

2 Robert 02.25.10 at 8:11 pm

It is called a KILLER whale. Isn’t that enough to cover their a**es?

3 Dennis 02.26.10 at 10:59 am

If you go to see a wild animal act, part of the thrill is that they are WILD animals. No one goes to see the rabbit tamer show.

Sometimes, the animals act true to form.

4 wfjag 02.26.10 at 11:58 am

“Think about it. If the law were to allow recovery by complete strangers witnessing blood and gore who themselves were not at risk of physical injury . . .” that would be the end of the “Halloween” movies.

5 Benjamin 02.26.10 at 1:29 pm

I have to side against Sea World on this. The whale in question had killed a trainer before. If it was known to kill they shouldn’t have had the whale around people.

Disclaimer: I did work for Sea World in college in the late 90′s and my views might not be shared by Sea World.

6 Dino Dogan 02.27.10 at 11:31 pm

SeaWorld had issued contradictory reports on the Whale murder… muddy waters are benefiting the owners of the Sea World…divide opinions, put out inconsistent information, confuse and thrive…just another day at the office Im afraid.

I am sure that SeaWorld has put bottom line before the well being of the whale, humans, trainers and anyone else who stood in the way of making profits.

The root of the problem is deeper Im afraid. I’ve written about it on my blog if anyone cares to comment …
http://dogandogs.com/serial-killer-whale-strikes-again-the-sea-wor

7 lurker #267 02.28.10 at 8:46 pm

The whale didn’t kill a person before, the guy earned himself a darwin award by jumping into the tank in the middle of the night, naked. Died of hypothermia. Unless there’s another case I haven’t heard about?

Now, if he’s shown aggression towards trainers repeatedly, prior to this attack, why were they still getting close to this animal? Put it on display only if you’ve got the resources to do so.

And as far as the name goes, ‘killer’ refers to the orca’s habit of eating other whales, not to killing humans (which is what we normally mean when we label an animal ‘killer’). Although I think the fact that orcas will kill GREAT WHITE SHARKS in the wild probably should have been a hint as to how dangerous they could be. x_x Much as I love orcas, I grew up watching nature docs, I know they’re not as sweet and angelic as some people seem to think.

8 lurker #267 02.28.10 at 8:49 pm

Oh, ha ha, just looked at the links, so this orca has been involved in the death of another person, directly. Alright, so why the hell was the woman in the tank with him in the first place? Breed him, put him on display, the end. No swimmy with the hungry fishy.

9 Ace of Sevens 03.01.10 at 3:11 pm

And apparently, despite having killed two people, the whale is going back into shows.

10 Kim Scarborough 03.02.10 at 1:42 pm

That whale must be thinking, “dang, who do I gotta kill to get let out of this place?”

11 nevins 03.02.10 at 7:41 pm

“And apparently, despite having killed two people, the whale is going back into shows.”
Well of course; people are likely lined up outside the gates to see this show now. Its like the luge in the olympics; ratings must have shot through the roof after the death video went viral.

12 CarLitGuy 03.02.10 at 8:39 pm

Similar, I suspect, to the crashes at Nascar races…

13 John Jingleheimer 03.04.10 at 9:26 am

Benjamin – ” Disclaimer: I did work for Sea World in college in the late 90’s and my views might not be shared by Sea World. ”

Thank you so much for putting that disclaimer up there. I was almost certain that Sea World shared the same views as you do.

Sea World spokesperson ( Hello , I represent Sea World and we know the whale has killed before and we should not have let him be around people we have the same views as Benjamin does )

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