Is Disney in Trouble When Gator Kills Kid?

So a family goes to Florida Disney Resort…and an alligator snatches the 2yr old kid at water’s edge of the Disney lagoon or whatever they call it. The Resort appears to be surrounded by water on many sides.  It just got worse……..

“Another father who nearly lost his own son a year ago during a family vacation at Disney is now speaking out about the tragedy. David Hiden, a San Diego attorney, says that in April 2015, two alligators came towards his 6-year-old son while they were staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando – just a few miles from where 2-year-old Lane was killed last week after an alligator attacked him while he was wading in about a foot of water at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
“[My son] was playing and I looked past his head because something caught my attention and it was an alligator,” Hiden tells PEOPLE. “I grabbed him and brought him up to the path where it’s safe. I then noticed a second alligator.” Hiden says he immediately warned authorities at the resort about the alligators, which he estimated to be about six feet each. “When I went up to management, I was expecting them to flip out, immediately call security and get on the loud speaker to tell people to get out of the water,” he says. “But instead, they said, ‘These are resident pets and they’re not harmful. They can’t hurt anybody and we’ve known about them for years.’ “

PD: WHOA, whoa, whoa!!!!   When those who own resorts may believe they have it under control even when they know, see, and remove such creatures (alligators)….would the law in Florida shield them from just not taking any action?  We find that very hard to believe…..AND it is simply idiotic to claim that alligators are resident PETS. That is just absurd and moronic to boot.

At issue now, is whether the Resort has liability for the gator killing the kid?  Likely, the issue will in part depend on notice, that is, what notice was given re alligators in lagoons there, and probably down the line, whether Florida law would find that the alligators are part of the wild animals of that area and thus inherent to the location…[which they are, since there are allegedly over a million gators there…]  Also, we read that supposedly even a Disney employee believed that the gators being known to be IN some of the lagoons, were an ongoing issue and that perhaps a fence should have been set up?

Note: Disney put up alligator-snake warning signs in June 2016…. but it had to take a kid getting killed before they finally did it…

Alligator, Head, Wildlife, Mouth, Teeth

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/opinions/hotels-may-avoid-liability-alligator-attack-danny-cevallos/index.html

Legal nightmare, say experts

Legal experts have some unsolicited advice for Disney World, where an alligator pulled a toddler to his death Tuesday: Settle with the boy’s family, and do it fast.

The Orlando, Fla., theme park’s reputation as a carefree and family-friendly destination was shattered when 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed in a shallow lagoon near his family’s resort rental. The tragedy left parents Matt and Melissa Graves, of Elkhorn, Neb., heartbroken and the iconic company, experts say, dealing with a legal nightmare.

“They knew about the alligators. They had reports from employees concerned about the alligators and yet they did nothing,” said attorney Michael Steinger of the Florida-based law firm Steinger, Iscoe & Greene. “When you know of this danger and you fail to take action – and more so you invite guests to come to that beach to watch a movie on the sand – you have to take responsibility for the inherent danger on the lake that you’re aware of.”

The artificial lake at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where the Nebraska family was staying, covers 200 acres and is home to an unknown number of Florida’s 1.3 million alligators.

While wildlife officials say alligator attacks on people are not common, the resort did not post any gator warnings in the immediate area where the boy died — only “no swimming” signs near the lagoon.

Legal experts say the lack of warning and mechanisms in place to keep alligators away from guests could create enormous liability for Disney, which attracts 55 million visitors per year.

“A simple no swimming sign doesn’t cut it, in light of knowing there’s wild animals and children on the property with no way to defend themselves,” said Florida personal injury lawyer Nicholas Gerson.

“They [Disney] were negligent based on a potential failure to warn and failure to act reasonably under the circumstances,” Gerson said. “It’s certainly a huge damages case and one that Disney is going to want to deal with privately,” added Gerson. “How do you put a number on a child’s life?” Disney said in a statement that all employees at the most populated theme park in the world were devastated by the “tragic accident.”

“Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement,” said Jacquee Wahler, vice president of the Walt Disney World Resort. In the wake of the boy’s death, the resort removed and killed five alligators from the lake. According to reports, Disney’s policy is to monitor the size of the gators in that lagoon, with those exceeding four feet targeted for removal. A spokesman was not immediately available to comment Thursday on the policy.

Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, said Disney will likely attempt to quietly settle the matter out of court — though a lawsuit has not yet been filed.

“Disney does not want to litigate this. Disney, which portrays itself as the most family friendly major resort corporation on the planet, would like to settle this case,” Napolitano said. “When you invite someone onto your property for the purpose of conducting a commercial transaction with you, you — the property occupier — have the highest duty of care to that person under the law.”

“That means to warn them about all known or likely dangers and to protect them for all known or knowable dangers,” he said

 

“IN  Florida, a property owner owes two duties to an invitee: (1) the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, and; (2) the duty to warn of latent or concealed dangers which (a) should be known to the owner and (b) are unknown to the invitee and (c) cannot be discovered through the exercise of due care.
What about the beach or the lagoon as an “attractive nuisance?” A landowner can be held liablefor harm to young children in that instance, but that doctrine probably doesn’t apply here. First, the harm must be caused by some artificial condition maintained on the property — not a natural, living creature. Second, the doctrine is premised upon the child as a trespasser, not an “invitee.”
“But in this instance, whether or not Disney fulfilled its duty to the child and his family doesn’t just depend on their status as “invitees.” It’s also determined by the legal status of the “hidden danger” — in this case, the alligator. So when are wild animals on the land considered an “unsafe condition?”
“It depends. “Ferae naturae,” meaning “animals of a wild nature or disposition,” is a legal doctrine — dating back to the Roman Empire — in which wild animals are presumed to be owned by no one specifically but by the people generally. Simply put: Under the law, wild animals are unpredictable and uncontrollable.”
“In Florida, the law does not require a landowner to anticipate the presence of or guard an invitee against harm from wild animals — or “ferae naturae.” This rule does have exceptions; for example, where the owner harbors such animals or has introduced onto his premises wild animals not indigenous to the locality. If wild animals are reduced to private control, confinement and possession, they become private property, which heightens a landowner’s exposure to liability when tragedy strikes…”
Courts in the Sunshine State have observed what most Floridians already know: alligators are native to Florida. Accordingly, landowners are not automatically required to have them “under dominion and control.”

It’s important to note that this wild animal doctrine certainly does not provide blanket immunity to a resort in a situation like this.

“Florida courts recognize that landowners may be negligent if they know or should know of an unreasonable risk of harm posed by an animal on their premises, and cannot expect patrons to realize the danger or guard against it.”
Our guess is that Disney will settle the case quickly and avoid litigation, and we noted already that Disney has given the Orlando affected surviviors (of the terrorist attack) a million bucks–so that shows Disney knows already, their brand name is ripe for being heavily denigrated in Florida, especially where they found at least FIVE alligators in the lagoon???
And that Disney allegedly always knew of gators in lagoons there, and hired trappers to remove them regularly?  Hello????
We personally do not think that many visitors to Disney resort in Florida (who are NOT from Florida)– even imagine that an alligator, much less dozens of alligators, are swimming in the lagoon there, since Disney is often designed for CHILDREN……….
…….if gators cannot be eliminated from the lagoons and Disney doesn’t want signs put up saying Alligators in lagoons, then what should Disney do?????? For safety purposes, it would seem that a barrier could have been an option, since gators really are not climbers.
That remains to be seen, but we think the payout to the family will be very very huge. In the many millions because of the devastation and loss. And we are sure that HSUS will be claiming the Resort should never have been built.  Just watch.
Advertisements