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Family of Boy Killed in Alligator Attack Won’t Sue Disney

Family of Boy Killed in Alligator Attack Won’t Sue Disney

Disney fires, then rehires intern who tweeted about sign telling employees to deny on-site alligators.

Last month, we blogged about a 2-year-old who was killed by an alligator at the man-made Seven Seas Lagoon located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld.

The family of the toddler, Lane Graves, has opted to build a foundation in their son’s name rather than sue Disney.

“Melissa and I are broken. We will forever struggle to comprehend why this happened to our sweet baby, Lane,” Matt and Melissa Graves said in a statement Wednesday. “As each day passes, the pain gets worse, but we truly appreciate the outpouring of sympathy and warm sentiments we have received from around the world.”

The Graves said they intended on keeping two-year-old Lane’s “spirit alive” through a foundation they created in his memory. “In addition to the foundation,” they said, “we will solely be focused on the future health of our family and we will not be pursuing a lawsuit against Disney.”

It is quite understandable that the parents do not want to go through the legal trauma of a lawsuit. However, Disney still must review its approach to wildlife in its resort areas.

It turns out the “Happiest Place on Earth” fired, then rehired, an intern that tweeted about a sign she saw related to alligators.

…[Shannon Sullivan’s] reaction was understandable. The sign, printed in red, green and blue ink, asked employees to deny that Disney knew of any alligators on its grounds because “we do not want our Guests [sic] to be afraid.”

In green ink, it offered the “appropriate response” for an employee to give when asked if there were any alligators at Disney – “Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have it removed.”

The sign read, in full:

“If a Guest asks if we have gators in the water around Tom Sawyer’s Island (or any bodies of water), the correct and appropriate response is, ‘Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have it removed.’ Please do not say we have seen them before. We do not want our Guests to be afraid while walking around Frontierland [part of Disney’s Magic Kingdom]. As a reminder, this is a serious matter. Please do not make jokes with our guests about this.”

Hopefully Disney has learned that real wildlife differs dramatically from the cartoon animals that have made it famous, so that another family doesn’t have to live with the pain the Graves are know experiencing.


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Jeebus, Leslie…!!! What the HELL did Disney do to you?

Plus…told ya.

    On the face of it, Rags, you may be right. But do you think it’s probable that Disney made a ‘generous’ contribution to the parent’s foundation?

    As you know, many outright frivolous lawsuits are settled just to avoid bad publicity. Also, if a settlement of some kind was not reached, Disney would have to carry this incident on their corporate books as a ‘potential claim’, even if the underlying facts would not be supported by the law.

Trying to blame Disney is a good way to guarantee that another family will indeed have to live with it. Disney’s not the problem. Tourists who think they can relax just because they’re on vacation are the problem. There isn’t much Disney can do about that.

I used to live in a tourist area. In retrospect, I’d rather have lived in an alligator area.

There are three parties involved in this issue, and Disney is the least important of the batch.

1. The alligators. Florida has mosquitos, enormous cockroaches, and alligators. (Crocodiles too, but not where Disney is.) None of these are going away any time soon.

2. Tourists. The tourists are going to want to play with the alligators. It’s just one of those things, like standing right next to the edge at the Grand Canyon, which goes along with tourism. It’s not going to go away any time soon, either.

3. Disney. There’s not much Disney can do to moderate the alligator/tourist dynamic.

Disney can put up “No Swimming” signs. They did. They didn’t work. People will insist that wading, cavorting, or even treading water aren’t “swimming”, and ignore the signs.

They can put up fences to keep the tourists away from the alligators. Big deal, they’ll climb the fences (the tourists, not the alligators—though alligators can climb surprisingly well).

They can drain and fill in any wetlands near any Disney facilities (except that all levels of government will fight them on that). But it won’t work; alligators aren’t amphibians, they like dry land just fine.

The only thing which will stop alligators cold is, well, cold. They go torpid when temps are in the low 70s F. Disney doesn’t really have control of the weather—not yet, anyway.

Final takeaway—Don’t run with scissors; don’t play in traffic; and don’t ignore the alligators in Florida. This is all personal responsibility-type stuff. Blow it off, and you can’t blame somebody else when the obvious happens.

    Arminius in reply to tom swift. | July 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    No, Disney carries a great share of the blame. Those aren’t natural lakes. Disney didn’t build a lakefront resort. They built a lake and a resort at the same time. Then they built a system of canals to connect the artificial lakes to natural waterways where they knew there were alligators.

    Basically this was all Disney’s doing. They constructed an entire artificial ecosystem that brought alligators right up to the front doorstep of their hotel. And they didn’t have any warning signs. Other hotels and resorts in the area take their responsibilities to their guests seriously and warn them, “Beware. Alligators.” “No Swimming” signs don’t cut it. They didn’t warn their guests about a known hazard that they themselves had created.

    If they wanted to keep alligators away from their guests this was not the way to go about this. Disney as good as planned for this to happen.

      Arminius in reply to Arminius. | July 23, 2016 at 4:15 am

      Well, I see I have a downvote. Which is a vote against sanity. Disney didn’t need to do things this way. They didn’t need to dig artificial alligator habitat next to their hotel. And then dig alligator highways in the form of canals so the gators could conveniently get to that artificial habitat from their natural habitat.

      Somebody please try to make the case that digging the artificial alligator habitat next family hotel/resort and then the artificial highways from natural alligator habitat in the form of canals that gave the gators convenient access to the hotel/resort was in any way necessary. You can’t do it.

      You also can’t pretend that Disney had nothing to do with creating these conditions considering they had everything to do with creating these artificial conditions.

Is it safe to assume the news release does not mention Disney threw so much money (along with an NDA) at the family there’s enough to fund the foundation and gazillions more just to avoid discovery and a trial?

    The cynic in me has to agree: The parents said they would not sue after Disney ‘volunteered’ to fund their foundation with a ‘generous’ grant. (My opinion, anyway)

      Ragspierre in reply to Redneck Law. | July 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Smart people on both sides seek to settle without litigation.

      Litigation is WAY too expensive and risky…for everyone. I know.

        True. Back in the day, a client would always ask “How much is this thing gonna cost?”

        My reply: “It will be as expensive as the other side makes it to be.”

Again, as I stated earlier in the other thread last month, there is no point to suing Disney.

Disney world is more autonomous and independant of state law than most Of the country’s Indian reservations. To collect, they would literally have to file in a Mickey Mouse court, in front of a Mickey Mouse judge, where they could collect up to a pre approved Mickey Mouse set limit on Damages.

Walt Disney was able to negotiate the whole farm when he created Disneyworld. And this is why residents of Orkando may resent the Mouse,

And on my opinion, Disney actually has a really good record of controlling wild animal attacks, and they shouldn’t, in the court of public opinion, suffer greatly for a problem that every lakefront property in Florida has limited control over.

    Except that you try to avoid a hostile jurisdiction by filing a federal civil action since there is “Diversity of Citizenship” and a requisite amount in dispute.


    Either you didn’t read my breakdown of Disney’s special municipal district, or you decided to ignore it. Link below. It is NOT sovereign land. All they’ve got power over is basic utilities, zoning and building codes.

    This would be handled in one of the normal District Courts of the 5th Circuit of Florida (the Circuit encompassing Disney). Disney is still subject to all the legislative statements of Florida, all the laws and all the normal Court processes. Damages and liability just like any other place in the State of Florida.

    As for Federal action, that is contractually barred. Part of the Contract signed by the parents for staying in the resort (and on behalf of the child as approved and binding on the child’s estate under US Constitutional law and Florida State Constitution) says that any cause of action must be brought in the 5th Circuit of Florida.

    Disney contractually limited the place where any lawsuit could have been brought, the parents for themselves and on behalf of the child accepted. The jurisdictional limitation will be respected by the Courts and any Federal action would have been dismissed upon motion from Disney as prohibited by contract.

These tragedies are sad;y predictable in a world where we are told we can coexist with large, hungry predators. Nature is not a plaything and gators are not lovable.

There are lots of alligators in Florida. It is what it is. Fortunately attacks like this are extremely rare.