ALLIGATORS AT DISNEY

 

The Walt Disney Co. – Disney World in Orlando will face a legal fight following the alligator attack that grabbed and dragged a two year old from Nebraska, Lane Graves at the Lagoon at the Grand Florida Resort that resulted in the 2 year old’s death.

In an article in USA Today – Money on June 20, 2016 by Roger Yu entitled “Disney may be in for more trouble” claims Disney “could face claims of gross negligence after tot was killed by alligator”.  According to an interview with a trial lawyer, Dan Cytryn, a law firm in Miami, states Disney’s exposure is phenomenal.  By Florida law and in most states, hotel and motel operators have a “duty to protect guests from unreasonable risk of physical harm”.  The Graves family could look to Disney to sue the media, theme parks and resorts giant.  The suit would question the companies’ policies about wildlife handling at the resort.  The lawsuit would be even stronger against Disney in that they had knowledge that alligators are rampant in the waters of Florida and Disney had prior knowledge about the alligators.  Further, by Florida law and in most states, a 2 year old is “non-sui-juris” meaning a child at that age cannot be responsible for their acts.  By Florida comparative negligence statute, the infant has zero comparative negligence (cannot be held responsible for being near the shore).  No swimming signs were posted at the lagoon’s beach but no signs warning of alligators were present.  The child was not swimming and his parents should have been made aware that alligators were in the lagoon and warn of the alligator’s potential danger.

The article points out “if they have knowledge (of alligator’s presence) they have to pass it on to customers. If they fail to do so, it’s considered negligence or failure to conduct yourself in a reasonable matter”.  However, Disney’s case could be under a higher legal standard “gross negligence” according to attorney Branson of Dallas.  “It appears to me that it’s heedless and actual disregard of the safety and welfare of this child and families to merely have a sign up that says ‘no swim’”.  If Disney is found guilty of gross negligence then the jury will not only award damages for the infant’s life and pain and suffering (dying by alligator bites and drowning) but can add to this award by accessing punitive damages against the resort.  An amount to punish Disney in addition to compensatory damages for the child’s pain and suffering and death.

Disney is installing signage and temporary barriers at the resort’s beach locations (a little late).  Disney claims they continue to evaluate processes and procedures on permanent long termsolutions at their beaches.  Disney is reinforcing training with cats for reporting sightings and interactions with wildlife and expanding communications to guests.

Disney still has an ongoing problem in that it was reported that Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was aware of ongoing problems of guests feeding alligators and they had ignored staff requests to put protective fences in place.  Another example of Disney’s prior knowledge about the alligators and proof of their negligence and gross negligence.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured at any hotel/motel or resort, contact the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 or e-mail us at djrobolaw@aol.com or on our web page under White-Plains-Personal-Injury-Lawyer.com.