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Did Disney’s Attitude Towards Nature Contribute to Toddler’s Death?

Did Disney’s Attitude Towards Nature Contribute to Toddler’s Death?

Alligators deemed “harmless” after a previous incident involving another child.

On Memorial Day weekend, we covered the accident with Harambe that led to the shooting of a rare gorilla to protect a boy who fell into the Cincinnati’s zoo enclosure.

Now, in time for Father’s Day, there is troubling news related to the awful death of Lane Graves. The 2-year old was attacked by an alligator at the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld.

As an environmental health and safety professional, a key element of risk assessment is “reasonable anticipation.”  For example: Can you reasonably anticipate that a wild predator poses a risk to small children?

Most people would answer, “Yes”. However, officials at the resort seemingly treated the creatures as another fun attraction.

Disney World was warned about the alligator problem in its Seven Seas Lagoon but looked the other way because high-paying guests enjoyed feeding the creatures, a report has claimed.

Management had been warned by park staff that guests at the $2,000-a-night waterfront Bora Bora Bungalows were feeding the alligators, but ignored requests to build protective fences, a park insider said, according to TheWrap.

“Disney has known about the problem of guests feeding the alligators well prior to the opening of the bungalows,” the insider told the news site.

“With the opening of the bungalows, it brought the guests that much closer to wildlife. Or, the wildlife that much closer to the guests.”

There was a near miss earlier that should have triggered management to take corrective measures, such as posting warning signs, putting up barriers, and prohibiting the feeding of alligators. However, the incident was dismissed, because the alligator’s were deemed “harmless”.

A year before an alligator killed a 2-year-old boy at a Disney resort in Florida, a concerned father was told by theme park officials that the gators were “harmless” following a terrifying close call with his own son.

David Hiden recalled how he saw alligator approaching as his 5-year-old son enjoyed himself in calf-deep water behind their hotel in April of last year.

“I saw something rapidly coming on like a submarine,” the San Diego resident told CBS News. “And I look and I went, ‘Oh my god. That’s an alligator.’ And it was probably about six to seven feet.”

This situation is indicative of a disturbing trend of culture-makers elevating nature and minimizing humans. The deadly attributes of fierce and wild animals are minimized to the point that people do not recognize that they and their children are actually viewed as prey.

Additionally, wild animals exposed to humans become habituated to them, which reduces the “threat” that the creatures feel from mankind. This further places everyone at risk.

Sadly, Disney only now has recognized the hazards the alligators posed and has posted warning signs.

“We are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols,” Walt Disney World Resort Vice President Jacquee Wahler said in a statement Thursday. “This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings.”

A legal expert opines that the family would be within its right to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Disney.

“The Walt Disney Corp. has a duty to warn their hotel guests of any dangers that they either know about or should know about,” said Matt Morgan, an Orlando attorney who has sued theme parks in the state for negligence.

For Lane’s family to have a case against Disney, attorneys would have to prove the theme park knew there were alligators in the water at the resort’s Seven Seas Lagoon. “If Disney had knowledge that there were alligators in the lagoon and did not take steps to inform their guests of such dangers, then they could be liable,” Morgan said Thursday. The attorney did not provide a dollar amount for a possible lawsuit.

If guests were alerted about the alligators, Lane’s life might have been saved. “It’s heartbreaking to think that this tragedy could have been prevented if Disney would have warned their guests and taken safety measures,” Morgan said.

If the new reports are accurate, there should be a very strong case against Disney.

However, no amount of money will bring Lane back. Let’s hope his death has not been in vain and that business executives learn that predators cannot be treated like pets. They must protect their patrons accordingly.

(Featured Image via Twitter).

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Comments

Given that Disney has spent the last 8o years anthropomorphizing every animal in the kingdom, I’m thinking that management grew up thinking bears could sing and mice were cute money-makers.

If I were the parents, Disney couldn’t sell enough plastic crap to cover the lawsuit I’d lay on their doorstep…singing animals optional.

    See my reply below regarding Disney’s Contractual “Booking Terms and Conditions.”

    Circumstance beyond the park’s control (Alligator presence) + Act of God (Alligator attack) = no liability.

      That’s ridiculous.

        Give me a legal analysis reason as to why.

          Your “analysis” is utterly and facially ridiculous. First, in all probability, the presence of alligators in the lagoon at the family resort was within the park’s control. It could have erected barriers limiting the alligators’ entry into the lagoon, or separating them from humans at the resort.

          Second, even if erecting such barriers was impossible (which I doubt), tort law is clear that in circumstances where the danger is unavoidable, the property owner has a duty to *warn* others of the danger.

          Indeed, the fact that warning signs went up immediately after this tragic death is clear proof that Disney had the ability to put such signs up before the death.

          Third, your equating the attack to an “Act of God” is absurd. A single alligator attack on a single child isn’t similar in scope or cause to any recognized Acts of God such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, war and other massive natural and human disasters.

          ” (Alligator presence) + Act of God (Alligator attack) = no liability.

          OK JPL17, you’re a MORON.

          Your “analysis” is utterly and facially ridiculous. First, in all probability, the presence of alligators in the lagoon at the family resort was within the park’s control. It could have erected barriers limiting the alligators’ entry into the lagoon, or separating them from humans at the resort.

          Ask ANY EXPERT on wildlife in Florida. You CANNOT limit the presence of alligators ANYWHERE. It is ecologically IMPOSSIBLE. PERIOD. Anybody who is telling you differently is a MORON who has never actually set foot in Florida, studied wetland habitat or studied medium size predator animal behavior.

          Second, even if erecting such barriers was impossible (which I doubt), tort law is clear that in circumstances where the danger is unavoidable, the property owner has a duty to *warn* others of the danger.

          See above regarding impossibility. See further signs with COMMANDS FROM DISNEY NOT TO SWIM THERE. That, in and of ITSELF, is enough to say “there’s a danger here of some sort, don’t do a certain act, which the Parent’s CLEARLY let the child perform (wading in the water).” Further, Alligators are a UNIVERSALLY KNOWN HAZARD in Florida. There’s an “assumption of risk” element that you’re unreasonably discounting.

          Indeed, the fact that warning signs went up immediately after this tragic death is clear proof that Disney had the ability to put such signs up before the death.

          So what? Just because they have now CHOSEN to do so doesn’t mean that they ever HAD a duty to do so. Should they put up signs that say “hey, the GROUND might suddenly open up and swallow you” too? They’re an “unavoidable danger” of the ecology of Florida. Does Disney have a duty THERE? HMM???

          Third, your equating the attack to an “Act of God” is absurd. A single alligator attack on a single child isn’t similar in scope or cause to any recognized Acts of God such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, war and other massive natural and human disasters.

          Let me direct you to BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY, EIGHTH EDITION, Page 37, half-way down the page in the first column:

          act of God: An overwhelming unpreventable event caused exclusively by forces of nature, such as an earthquake, flood or tornado. The definition has been statutorily broadened to include all natural phenomena that are exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible, the effects of which could not be prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight. (emphasis added).

          Further, see the third note to the definition, which reads:

          [A]ll natural agencies, as opposed to human activities, constitute acts of God, and not merely those which attain an extraordinary degree of violence or are of very unusual occurrence. The distinction is one of kind and not one of degree. The violence or rarity of the event is relevant only in considering whether it could or could not have been prevented by reasonable care; if it could not, then it is an act of God which will relieve from liability, howsoever trivial or common its cause may have been. If this be correct, then the unpredictable nature of the occurrence will go only to show that the act of God in question was one which the defendant was under no duty to foresee or provide against. It is only in such a case that the act of God will provide a defence” R.F.V. Heuston, Salmond on the Law of Torts 330 (17th Ed. 1977).

          Further, if you REALLY want to get into the weeds on this one, Disney ALREADY has teams to relocate Alligators off of the property which can handle Alligators up to 4 feet in length, and works with Florida Fish & Wildlife to relocate larger ones. As the PARTICULAR alligator in question was over FIVE feet in length, it would have been on Florida FISH & WILDLIFE to move it ASSUMING that Disney had notice that the particular Alligator WAS THERE.

          It’s NOT a “static hazard.” It’s a WILD ANIMAL.

          See Regulation 68A-25.003 Taking and Disposal of Nuisance Alligators Statewide.

          (1) Only persons under contract with the Commission as nuisance alligator trappers, or their agents and assistants, who have been approved by the executive director, or his
          designee, shall take, possess and kill nuisance alligators as authorized by permit.

          (2) Persons may apply for nuisance alligator contracts by completing and submitting a Nuisance Alligator Trapper Application (FWC Form 1002AT (2-06), incorporated by reference herein).

          ” (Alligator presence) + Act of God (Alligator attack) = no liability.

          Disney exercised their “due care” burden here.

          So, given the above: Yes. Circumstance beyond the park’s control (Alligator presence) + Act of God (Alligator attack) = no liability.

          Ragspierre in reply to Chuck Skinner. | June 22, 2016 at 2:14 pm

          There’s an “assumption of risk” element that you’re unreasonably discounting.
          ——————————-

          Chuck, I’ll disagree with you to the extent that “assumption of risk” jurisprudence has been replaced by comparative negligence/proportionate responsibility theory.

          I don’t agree, also, that liability here is as cut-and-dried as you are depicting. I do think you’ve been pushed to a position more extreme than you actually feel supportable.

          In Texas premises liability, a landlord can be liable for a known threat from criminal acts about which they are aware, or reasonably should be aware, and about which they fail to warn or take measures to prevent on behalf of their tenants and other invitees.

          Likewise, any land owner or tenant who keeps domestic animals can be liable for damages if those animals are not kept restrained effectively, or if invitees are hurt by them.

          It is true that nobody is liable for wild deer, for instance, who cause damage to motorists or pedestrians. I vaguely remember a term for this from law school, but cannot come up with the “magic” words.

          I think it could be rationally argued that a water impoundment is analogous to a pasture or wooded area in terms of having wildlife transient or resident, and someone coming to harm as a result. No rational person can assert that anyone is liable for a snake bite in any of these scenarios.

          Would a landowner in the canyons of Los Angeles be liable for a mountain lion attack?

          I take strong exception to Leslie’s reportage here, some of which is extremely dubious, but to which she simply gave full credence.

          “assumption of risk” jurisprudence has been replaced by comparative negligence/proportionate responsibility theory.

          OK.

          In Texas premises liability, a landlord can be liable for a known threat from criminal acts about which they are aware, or reasonably should be aware, and about which they fail to warn or take measures to prevent on behalf of their tenants and other invitees.

          Likewise, any land owner or tenant who keeps domestic animals can be liable for damages if those animals are not kept restrained effectively, or if invitees are hurt by them.

          Yep. However, I think that Disney here has successfully ~contractually~ limited it’s liability in this instance.

          If it was a domesticated animal with known vicious tendencies (under negligence) or a kept animal that is naturally dangerous, having never been domesticated as a species (under strict liability), I could see that as a liability vehicle.

          In this instance though, I think that the animal qualifies as wild, not kept, and that Disney has exercised their due diligence by having teams to make reasonable attempts to remove problem alligators that are brought to Disney Staff attention. I think that the “reasonable measures” were made here.

          It is true that nobody is liable for wild deer, for instance, who cause damage to motorists or pedestrians. I vaguely remember a term for this from law school, but cannot come up with the “magic” words.

          I think the term your looking for is ferae naturae, which references a wild animal residing on unowned property that do not belong to any party in a dispute on the land. Opposite of domitae naturae which is an animal that has been domesticated as a species (although which an individual of the species may regain its ferae nature if left to roam wild and unrestrained).

          I think it could be rationally argued that a water impoundment is analogous to a pasture or wooded area in terms of having wildlife transient or resident, and someone coming to harm as a result. No rational person can assert that anyone is liable for a snake bite in any of these scenarios.

          I think that this is more what fits this particular set of circumstances. Reasonable efforts are taken to attempt to ~control~ this particular feature of the ecosystem, but an animal attack by a wild animal, not kept or owned by the park, whose individual presence in the area is transient by nature, (I think) qualifies as an individual “act of God.”

          Would a landowner in the canyons of Los Angeles be liable for a mountain lion attack?

          No. I don’t think so. Slightly different issue, though. What is the “contract for use” of the person entering upon the property? Even if mountain lions had been seen in the area, I don’t think that the owner would have liability for a transient wild animal on the property under negligence theory. However, let’s say in the Mountain Lion example that you explicitly waive your right to recover for being on the property for an “act of God” I think at that point you’ve then waived your liability for a wild animal attack.

          Again, different if someone OWNED the mountain lion and it ESCAPED and mauled someone. Then there’s strict liability. Same with the Alligators. If Disney OWNED them and one ESCAPED and ate someone, Disney would be toast (under Strict Liability theory for ownership of a naturally dangerous animal and the injuries caused thereby). But between the lack of ownership interest, Disney’s reasonable efforts to control and the contractual terms, I think Disney’s on firm footing to claim that there isn’t liability here.

      See my analysis below. The victim was not a party to any contract. The victim was two years old. Disney had prior knowledge of an alligator attack.

      “Circumstance beyond Disney’s control”? Hardly. Otherwise, the fence and warning signs recently installed would not have been installed.

        See my immediate breakdown of response to JPL 17 above.

        Further, the parents accepted the contract terms on the child’s behalf (otherwise the child isn’t allowed in the resort).

        Also see Lantz v. Iron Horse Saloon, Inc., 717 So.2d 590 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), which I haven’t been able to Shepardize, but I think is still controlling law on waivers signed by parents on behalf of children in Florida.

      In most states, it is not possible to contractually waive gross negligence.

        Actually, in Florida, you CAN waive just about anything if the contract is drafted properly.

        The pronouncements from the Supreme Court of Florida have been somewhat muddled, but basically say that the contract exculpatory clause must be unambiguous as to the material considerations, such as the activities, risks, and time frame. So a specific, explicit and direct clause that you are waiving all causes of action, for a certain period of time and performance of a certain activity, that’s enough to cause you to waive all causes of action.

        Even when parents have entered into those contracts on behalf of a child, and the child is killed, have contract clauses been enforced (in this particular case requiring binding arbitration of the claim). See Global Travel Marketing, Inc. v. Shea, 908 So.2d 392 404 (Fla. 2005).

    Nothing against anthromorphising in general, but the recent animated features require a discussion about how some animals are dangerous and will eat each other.

    buckeyeminuteman in reply to princepsCO. | June 22, 2016 at 7:52 am

    The most reviled creature in existence, the rat, is cleaned up and combed while sporting lovely suspenders and knickers. Of course they don’t feel like wildlife is a threat.

Paul In Sweden | June 21, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Imagine if someone in the USA got a crazy idea and marked off thousands of miles of wilderness inhabited by huge Bears, Mountain Lions & menacing Bison and let families with children picnic, camp & sleep in light weight nylon tents right there in the wild.

Bitterlyclinging | June 21, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Go short Disney. The child’s death at the resort, and the settlement, along with the 49 killed at the ‘Pulse’ are inevitably going to show up in the park’s attendance figures.

    Unlikely.

    Disney’s attendance figures are about as stable as you get in the Theme Park business. They ebb-and-flow a little bit, but month-by-month you can pretty well predict them like clockwork within about 3%, unless you’ve got a hurricane bearing down, in which case all bets are off.

    They’ve been down a little bit historically over the past two years, but that’s only because so much of the park has been under renovation.

    My wife and I went in January or February of 2011, 2012 and 2013 and Fantasy Land was under renovation the ENTIRE period, with different sections being closed off each year, and the 2011 closing down of “Mickey’s Toontown Fair.” Big swaths of Tomorrow land and Adventure Land were variously closed, and Fully HALF of Hollywood Studios was closed while we were there in 2013 in pre-build for the “Star Wars 7” expansion and closing down “American Idol” and the “Backlot Tour.”

    My guess is that this notice is going to have some effect, though:

    Walt Disney World announced that all resort beach areas are not available to guests. All watercraft is running. Guests can rent pontoon boats and Boston Whaler boats but the Sea Raycers are not available. If you have a fishing excursion before 9AM on Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake they have been cancelled. Guests are not allowed to fish using their own equipment on any resort waterway at this time. Movie Under the Stars at the resort will be shown indoors, instead of outside. Keep checking here for further updates.

    FYI – “Movie Under the Stars” is at the “All-Star Movies” value resort right next to the pool, starting every night at dusk, and usually on a big, inflatable movie-screen, and there’s lots of greenery and bushes nearby.

    There ~might~ be a hiccup in attendance figures in, oh, say 6 months or so, but that will largely be covered by December normal park attendance figures for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the annual Disney Marathon and the ESPN Cheer-leading Nationals.

Did the Senate vote on alligator control today?

Disney will fight the lawsuit. Pretty sure they fight all lawsuits.

    Standard practice for a large corporation if the Parents aren’t smart enough to take a settlement (which will be substantial).

    I ALWAYS tell my clients “Statements are expensive. Make sure you can AFFORD to make one if you’re going to refuse a reasonable settlement offer.”

I am not usually the kind of guy to encourage lawsuits. But in this case I think it’s not only justified, but the situation begs for it.

Consider. This is not a natural situation. Florida is in general alligator habitat, but not everywhere in FL is ideal or even decent alligator habitat. Walt Disney world is specifically not. Disney dug that artificial lake next to the hotel they built to create the “magic kingdom” or whatever. Then Disney dug a system of trenches, or canals, to bring water and accordingly whatever was in the water to their artificial lakes.

This couldn’t have happened without the assistance of the Disney corporation.

    amwick in reply to Arminius. | June 21, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Much of the shoreline on that lagoon is piled rocks, a kind of barrier. The top photo shows the rocks very clearly, as well as the new fence and the sand. This tragedy happened on a beach, a man made beach that was just a landscaping feature, something nice to look at, but not for swimming. This was a walking beach, or a photo op beach or a tanning beach? Crazy. The beach should go, the fence should stay, and Disney is totally at fault. My thoughts are with this child’s family.

If a hotel/resort in grizzly country builds a dump for all the food the guests don’t eat next to the kiddie playground, I’d say the hoteliers had some responsibility if a kid gets eaten.

    Ok, let’s play with that metaphor a little bit:

    Imagine that the hotel/resort (in Grizzly country) builds a building and stocks the lake right next to the hotel with yummy trout, pike or some other edible fish. Let’s further imagine that there’s an UNLIMITED amount of fish, because the hotel/resort makes money by selling fishing packages for their patrons.

    Now, let’s also assume that there are an UNLIMITED amount of Grizzly Bears in the 100 square miles around your facility, and they’re mobile. They have no preference as to where they go as long as there is food and little competition. You know that the Grizzly Bears sometimes eat the fish (in addition to other animals and fruits), but they also eat the fish from other lakes nearby that you do not stock.

    You have a sign that says specifically “don’t walk around to the other side of the lake.”

    Is the hotel/resort responsible when a guest walks around the other side of the lake and gets mauled and eaten by a Grizzly Bear?

I am reminded of Rachel Corrie who just couldn’t believe that one could get killed (permanently) by standing in front of an approaching bulldozer. It’s not that way on TV!!!

I abhor frivolous law suits.
However, I think the family has a case.
People going into the wild can expect to have to be on their guard.
However, when you go to a Disney resort there is an expectation that it’s manufactured environment that’s safe for the whole family.
Disney built an artificial pond and let a dangerous animal take residence. Not smart. Not safe.

    JPL17 in reply to Twanger. | June 21, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Exactly. EVERYTHING in Disneyworld is fake and artificially safe. Yet the ONE thing lurking in the lagoon that can kill your child, they don’t even warn you about???

    My only wish is that I could be on that jury, so I could help award the family billions of dollars in punitive damages against Disney.

      You don’t understand the first thing about a natural habitat (and yes, even a ‘man made’ lagoon can qualify as a “natural habitat”).

      Read the below, and then read the post further down regarding Disney’s Booking Terms and Conditions.

        I read your posts below before commenting here. They’re utterly unpersuasive. As I explained above, if the alligator danger was remediable, Disney had a legal duty to remediate; and if it was not remediable, they had a duty to warn. They did neither.

        So pontificate your empty theories and down-ding me all you want; but Disney clearly breached its duty of reasonable care to its patrons, and should be found liable for damages.

      Disney resorts made a reputation for being overly cautious. They had to because otherwise they’d have child predators and drug users peeing in the wild.

      Ragspierre in reply to JPL17. | June 22, 2016 at 7:48 am

      On what conceivable cause of action could you find punitive damages, do you imagine?

      A really BIG damage award would be either voided by the trial court or on appeal.

      Apparently, Disney DID warn. Do you have information to the contrary? Because even Leslie has shown they did have signs up, and I contend her statement they were inadequate is without support. Unless you want to trust ONE newspaper account.

    No, no, no, nonononono, NO!

    Disney did not “let” a dangerous animal take residence. The narrative is being framed in that manner by the media (and possibly lawyers) for the purpose of laying a “negligence” lawsuit at Disney’s feet (for the press, more story, for the lawyers, contingency fee recovery).

    It is FACTUALLY incorrect.

    There is nothing Disney (or anybody else, for that matter) could do to PREVENT dangerous animals from taking residence in this body of water.

    IT’S FLORIDA. Alligators are in EVERY large body of water (natural or man made) and will roam in them wherever they think that they can find food and won’t have to fight for it. They have a brain a little bit bigger than a shooting marble. Looks like food, smells like food, moves like food: it’s food. No other alligators here? My territory. Another Alligator shows up: If they’re not eating my food, ignore them; If they are eating my food, kill them and eat them.

    Don’t buy the media hype that this could have been prevented if only Disney had a barrier of some sort or if there had been a sign or warning. I’m telling you right now, NO barrier would keep the alligators out, and the likelihood is that the sign would have been IGNORED by the parents.

    You could have teams of hunters sweeping the grounds continuously, and you wouldn’t get all of them, and the extra food available from the removed alligators would draw others from the nearby areas in, simply making more work.

      In fact, now that I’ve done a little bit deeper research into it, I’ve found that Disney DOES have a team that deals with Alligators on the grounds (under 4 feet) in conjunction with Florida Fish & Wildlife (over 4 feet in length).

      So, reasonable preventative acts WERE ongoing.

      And small bodies of water, like the retention ponds in my housing development, which have alligators and otters, and alligators eating otters.

I think civil lawsuits are swell, and they have a market function in the broader economy. If you think about it, they are a democratic means (via a jury) of dealing with issues that markets don’t directly address, and are not really intended to address.

That said, the Disney people will quickly settle any lawsuit, though it would be a relatively weak suit, IMNHO. They’ll do it on good terms all around, partly out of sound business judgment.

The family would, in an aggressive lawsuit, be faced with the affirmative defense of comparative negligence/proportionate responsibility, which is tough to overcome on the facts as we know them. Among other affirmative defenses, such as failure to mitigate damages, these could strip the family of any recovery.

I remind people here you can sue anyone for anything. You can’t win anything, necessarily.

IF I go to Louisiana and decide to go fishing in hip-waders, ignoring signs that warn me of wildlife in the water, I would be disappointed in my survivors if they sued the bait-camp for my demise.

Nobody gets out of here alive. And you can greatly expedite your exit by doing foolish stuff. Like crossing a posted fence into the pasture where a bull is in residence so you can take pictures of the flowers. Or sending your toddler.

    In my Southern State (Not Florida) there are several legal theories which Disney would have a tough time overcoming. First, the “Law of Attractive Nuisance” might apply (even though the child was an invitee, not a trespasser). The theory is a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by an object on the land that is likely to attract children. The lagoon is much like a private swimming pool. A “No Trespassing” sign is not going to insulate you from liability in a tort case (or civil suit.) The age of the victim plays into how much weight a sign would have.

    Second, and the most important, we are talking about a two year old victim who would be legally incapable in my state of being charged with contributory negligence.

    In analyzing cases theoretically, I often pick the side that would have the easiest case or the best chance of winning. I would go with the family on this one . . .

      Ragspierre in reply to Redneck Law. | June 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      HUUUUUUGE problem, Red…

      Daddy was there. Daddy would be liable for contributory negligence/proportionate responsibility. Little kids never are.

      As to failure to mitigate damages, why wasn’t daddy in the water, between child and any danger?

      He CHOSE to ignore the signs and the reasonable apprehension of danger any cogent adult would have understood.

      Same result if child had been bitten by a cottonmouth.

        There were no signs….they only popped up after a child died.

        The family is from the Midwest….a region not know for its alligators, either.

        As a safety professional, I assert that Disney management followed to take reasonable precautions to a hazard after an incident that could have resulted in death or great bodily harm manifested itself.

        The father was close enough to try and grab the child from the animal during the attack, so it’s not as if the parent were on the veranda, have a Mai Tai, and not engaging in parenting duties.

        The family could sue readily with what is already know, and reasonably expect a significant settlement.

          My support is located in the news report quote which I have provided above that indicates there was a lack of warning signs. I have the quote and the link. More I cannot do.

          The signs are irrelevant. Even if there had been a physical barrier, it would have been irrelevant, because it wouldn’t be effective.

          There is no reasonable precaution against a natural feature of the ecosystem. It would be like saying “don’t walk near the flowers because there are bees.”

          Even if the child had been ON LAND, let’s say within 10 feet of the water AND the Father had been right next to him, the Alligator could have rushed out of the water, snatched the child and been gone before the Father could have uttered more than a strangled scream.

          It’s an ambush hunter. It’s fast, it’s strong, and it’s a natural part of the Florida ecosystem. If it’s in the water, or can make it BACK to the water with it’s prey, it’s GONE, because it can out-swim a human.

          The presence of Alligators are a condition beyond the control of Disney. Remove them, more will arrive, because there is no ~effective~ method to keep them out.

        Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | June 21, 2016 at 8:18 pm

        “There were no signs….they only popped up after a child died.”

        Support?

        Did the rope barriers just “pop up”?

        Didn’t I say they would get a settlement? Fair all around?

          “While Disney had posted “no swimming” signs at the lake where the boy died, it did not have alligator warning signs, which are common around golf courses, ponds and public parks all over Florida. That has raised questions about whether the company did enough to convey the potential danger to visitors.”

          http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4737785fc4af4e10a416eb6b7f080ec5/sheriff-charges-unlikely-after-2-year-old-killed-gator

          I rest my case, your honor.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | June 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

          Post your support that the signs shown in the post were not present, counselor.

          More importantly to this discussion, I direct the assembled attorneys present to the following language in Disney’s Contractual “Booking Terms and Conditions:”

          General Conditions and Responsibility

          Disney, its directors, officers, employees, subcontractors, agents and representatives, shall at no time be liable or responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss, injury, or damage caused or arising in connection with any transportation, hotel or other services or products of third parties provided through Disney, or as a result of acts of God, acts of Government or other authorities, wars, civil disturbances, hijacks, thefts, or any circumstance beyond its control…..

          Governing Law

          All sales of packages take place in and are consummated in the State of Florida. Any claim, action or lawsuit (collectively, “Action”) arising out of these Terms and Conditions, reservations and bookings, and/or all packages, products and services provided in connection with the reservations and bookings, including without limitation, components such as tickets, park admissions, packages, photo media, radio frequency devices and room accommodations (all collectively, “Terms, Reservations and Products”) must be filed and maintained exclusively in any court in Orange County, Florida having subject matter jurisdiction. These Terms, Reservations and Products shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Florida, without giving effect to any principles of conflicts of law.

          The FIRST witness that I would put on as a defense attorney for Disney would be an expert in Alligators in Florida, and how they’re going to be present in any large body of water, cross any barrier installed, and be present regardless of any act taken by the park to attempt to keep them out. (they’ve been known to climb over chain-link fences over 8 feet high and/or dig under them).

          As a natural hazard that is a circumstance beyond the control of the Park they then argue that the attack qualifies as an “Act of God.”

          The SECOND witness I would put on in Disney’s defense would be a dry-as-dust specialist in contract law on waiver of claims of action by agreeing to terms of service.

          Poof. Lawsuit over.

        Your are kinda, sorta correct here Rags. There are several causes of action and several plaintiffs. The dad’s and mom’s action or inaction may affect their case, but I’m thinking that the Estate of the Child has a pretty good tort claim against Mouse, Inc.

    mekender in reply to Ragspierre. | June 21, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I think that pretty well follows my thoughts… First of all, it is not like Alligators are unusual in Florida… Every body of water in central Florida, every single one. So any jury that sees such a case will have the same line of thinking, “duhh, is water, has gators”

    Any lawyer worth his salt should be advising them to take the settlement, which I am sure was written before the body was even recovered. A court case on this will be brutal for the family and not really sure to result in a good outcome for them.

      Remember folks, by the route this conversation has taken here the issue is no longer alligators, it’s lawyers. There’s only one species more treacherous & opportunistic than lawyer’s ; that species is politician’s. It’s what lawyers become when they reach the top in their particular food chain.

        Ragspierre in reply to secondwind. | June 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm

        No, you poor, insane, lil’ sack of inferiority complexes, it is about the law.

        Lawyers know and understand the law, and some of us here try to inform the posters here of its implications.

        Most lawyers toil in the trenches, defending the rights of both the defendant and the plaintiff. You just snipe at us from the trees with your pea-shooters, you little sack of shit.

          snopercod in reply to Ragspierre. | June 21, 2016 at 9:03 pm

          LAWYER: One skilled in the circumvention of the law.

          –Ambrose Bierce

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | June 21, 2016 at 9:12 pm

          You mean the infamous fabuluist and supporter of Poncho Villa…???

          Do you include Prof. Jacobson in your slander…???

          Rag’s
          I’m in awe of your well thought out & presentation laying out your counters & evidence to my admittedly flippant observation on lawyers, & your group creation known as the American “legal” system lawyers such as yourself have indeed built over the last 50 years & more. It’s a wonder to behold. With no hint of monetary considerations, politics, & influence buying entering into the mix.
          I congratulate you for your self control & restraint in that you avoided your usual path of name calling, innuendo, & mention of bodily functions & perversions that so often colour your responses in the past.
          I can only say, well done old warrior, you certainly put this old college dropout in his place. And once again proved the superiority of a well honed ivy league education!

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | June 22, 2016 at 7:02 am

          Punking you, giving you aNOTHER chance to show your historic ignorance (the law has been in development for thousands of years, not “50”, ya moron), and ANOTHER chance for you to show your malice and your disgusting animus toward people you know nothing about…always a pleasure!

          I haven’t been on an Ivy League campus in my adult life. Much of my education was self-study while working at the trades and in the oil field. Where little aspholes like you would be regularly beaten until you learned some things.

The lake was posted “No Swimming”, no explanationas why. Everyone from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the Gulf Coast would know, Gators or Cottonmouths.

    Most two year olds can’t read or execute contracts.

      Doesn’t matter. Parent’s executed the contract and acceptance of the Booking Terms and Conditions on behalf of the minor, and under both US Constitutional law (14th Amendment) and Florida Constitutional law (See Florida Constitution Article 1, Section 23).

      It’s proper for the parents to make decisions about their child’s welfare without interference from third parties (which applies to pre-injury exculpatory clauses, but not to post-injury settlement acceptance over $15k, per Florida Statute.

    Milhouse in reply to genes. | June 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    But Disney knows that many of its guests are not from those areas. It advertises all over the country to induce people from outside those areas to come and visit. Therefore it can’t rely on cryptic signs that only people from those areas would understand. To anyone else, “no swimming” means that there’s no lifeguard and the resort is worried about someone drowning. Wading on the shore should therefore not be a problem. Wading is a normal activity, especially for small children, and Disney should expect people to engage in it unless it specifically warns them not to.

My thought about the propriety of any fence: It’s not to keep the gators away from the tourists; it’s to keep the tourists away from the gators.

And in my state, again, the after-incident erection of barrier fences and installation of signs would be inadmissible at trial to prove negligence. (See: Fed. Rule of Evidence 407. Subsequent Remedial Measures)

I will only add this. Some commentators on this site can certainly dish it out but they can’t take it. Note, I said some, not all. I’d add some family background but I’ve discovered those same commentators only take such information & use it to belittle & excoriate such past family now long dead. Just as they belittle & excoriate opinions & experiences that don’t line up to their own biases & bigotries.
Just as they consistently read what they want to into expressed opinions & ignore content that is clearly laid out for all to see.
Over the last few months I’ve debated with myself over whether it’s worth the grief to comment on this site. It’s come down to that I’ve resolved to continue. Largely because I’ll be dammed if I’ll allow some full of himself, pompous horses ass to drive me away. Especially one who so clearly doesn’t get it.
To “Ragspierre” specifically. Your days of lying, misrepresentation, & bullying are over. Get used to it.

    Ragspierre in reply to secondwind. | June 22, 2016 at 8:20 am

    You are master projectionist.

    Since you first showed up here, you have had a self-admitted goal of trolling me and damaging me. You stated so using my nom-d-keyboard.

    You’ve made it your business in just the last few days to publish complete lies about me personally that had nothing whatsoever to do with any topic on the thread.

    Self-parody is your second forte.

    Ps :
    Professor Jacobson.
    You of course can ban anyone you choose to on this site. Without you this resource would not be available to any of us. I strive to recognize & remember that in all my usage of this resource. Thank you.

Alligators are in every body of water in Florida.

Disney’s track record appears to be really good. There have been hotels on that lagoon since the 60s without major incident. They should get the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion.

As for public opinion, Disney looks like it will have to offer a generous settlement. They have earned goodwill in Florida but must keep it.

Leslie, there actually may be a legal issue here.

I believe Disney is a quasi sovereign on the grounds of Disney World. I think I read that they have almost the same powers that Indians do over an Indian reservation and in many matters can ignore state law. I imagine that they have used these powers to set a low liability cap for accidents at the park. So, unless the plaintiff can make a Federal case out of this, the plaintiffs may have to argue in front of a Disney court over Disney set liability limits.

    Ragspierre in reply to rotten. | June 22, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    “I believe Disney is a quasi sovereign on the grounds of Disney World. I think I read that they have almost the same powers that Indians do…”

    Links…!?!?! WTF…???

    It’s not sovereign land. It’s still subject to the laws of Florida, but it IS it’s own municipal district, and has certain special rights from the Florida Legislature.

    Reedy Creek Improvement District Services (the official name) has nearly total autonomy over items like land use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services overseen by the district, and the only areas where the district has to submit to the county and state would be property taxes and elevator inspections.

    The reason for this was the development of EPCOT. Walt Disney pitched it to the Florida Legislature in the 60s as exactly what it was named: the “Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow” with the idea that it would be a functional scientific multi-national city. The law creating the Improvement District was held by the Supreme Court of Florida not to “violate any provision of the Constitution of Florida.” As it, in part, declares that the District is exempt from all state land use regulation laws “now or hereafter enacted,” the Attorney General of Florida has issued an opinion stating that this includes state requirements for developments of regional impact.

    With that type of city arrangement, Walt Disney wanted the ability to move quickly to try out new designs, and implement practices without a lot of red-tape slowing it down. Adaptive land-use and architecture would have been progressing in terms of years (maybe even months) instead of decades and we would all probably be a lot further along in terms of housing and interior appliance design by now. Think the benefits of NASA scientists and engineers brought to the public by a science community privately funded and 1000 times larger.

    The idea was to have a engineers and scientists from all over the world living in temporary residence while conducting experiments and growing a knowledge base, and to make them comfortable by having a little slice of home where they and the public could interact at EPCOT center.

    When Walt Disney died in 1966, the Board shelved EPCOT residential living and scientific labs design as a residential science experiment (at the direction of Roy Disney, if I remember correctly) and turned the EPCOT plans into a world’s fair style tourist attraction instead (which is what it remains today).

    So no, it’s not sovereign, and any case arising out of this incident will be heard in the Florida District Courts, pursuant to liability and judgment laws of the state of Florida.

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