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Earlier this week we heard of the horrific death of a two-year-old boy by an alligator in a large lagoon adjacent to a Disney-owned resort hotel next to Disney World in Orlando. Can and should the grieving parents sue Disney for wrongful death? From the NY Post:
Witnesses said Lane was giggling and having fun in about 6 inches to a foot of water on the shoreline of the 172-acre lagoon during an outdoor movie event before the alligator dragged him away at about 9 p.m. Tuesday — with his horrified parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, nearby.
Officials admitted that the dangerous animals are “routinely” removed from the grounds — and that Disney even has its own wildlife-management team — yet the signs at the Seven Seas Lagoon, just across from Magic Kingdom Park, warn only against swimming and about deep water and steep drop-offs.
Apart from neglecting to post warning signs about the threat of gators in the lagoon, could Disney have taken other measures to prevent the animals from coming in contact with resort visitors? Barriers? Fencing? Had they explored other options but decided not to put them in place? Was it wise of the resort to hold an outdoor movie event for guests in proximity of the lagoon?
On various news sites, readers’ comments run the gamut of blaming the Nebraska-residing parents for not adequately protecting their child, for their presumed ignorance about the threat of gators in Florida, using the grim opportunity to make assorted racist remarks (because that’s what racists do apparently), to blaming Disney.
In the past, Disney has been the target of lawsuits for ride mishaps that caused injury or death at its theme parks or other incidents. One can imagine that legal representatives for the corporation are assessing their options in light of this recent incident. I’m not aware of whether Disney legal representatives have approached the parents of the toddler to discuss any settlement in the matter.
If it had been your child, what would you do now?
You can view Judge Napolitano’s analysis here.