The tragic death of a two-year-old boy at the Walt Disney World Resort could expose Disney to significant liability. While the horrifying incident resulted in a great deal of media coverage, some former workers at the popular Florida theme park went public with their complaints about how Disney management had failed to take steps to protect visitors like Lane Graves, the boy who was killed, from potentially tragic outcomes.
According to several Disney employees, management was well aware of the fact that guests were feeding alligators at the popular Florida theme park and resort.
A custodial worker at the Grand Floridian Hotel, a popular spot for guests to stay while visiting the theme park, said that he specifically told his bosses that alligators were swimming too close to the shore. The close proximity of the gators to the guests, said the employee, exposed guests to possible attacks by the animals. Moreover, the at-risk guests may not have truly understood the dangers because there were reportedly no signs in the area that indicated the presence of gators in the water. That’s why the worker reportedly asked his employers to erect a large fence around the shore.
One of the problems faced by Disney in trying to keep guests safe from gator attacks is that the entire resort is filled with canals. As a result, it is almost impossible for the theme park operators to do anything to prevent alligators from gaining access to the very large property. On some occasions, alligators have even been known to turn up on the gold courses at the Disney resort. Duncan Dickson, a former executive at Disney, said that his team tried to relocate the dangerous animals to other areas, “but the gators don’t understand the boundaries.”
Potentially making matters worse: Disney currently has plans to add more bungalows to other areas of the park that are similarly close to the wildlife, including the Disney Wilderness Lodge in Bay Lake.
Wrongful Death and Premises Liability Lawsuit against Disney
Matt Graves and Melissa Graves, the parents to Lane Graves, may be in a position to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Disney for the tragic death of their two-year-old child. When Lane Graves was snatched away from the shore by an alligator, his father was just a few feet away. Several hours later, the boy’s body was found in the water, just a few yards away from where he had been attacked by the gator.
After the tragic incident, Disney CEO Bob Iger issued a statement calling the boy’s death a “devastating loss.” The issue now is whether Disney could, or should, have done something to prevent the death in the first place. Under premises liability law, a property owner has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that site visitors are safe from injury or death. In this case, it is possible that a jury could find that Disney knew about the risks posed by alligators and failed to take appropriate measures to protect visitors like Lane Graves.
While facing the allegations of negligence when it comes to threats to the safety of theme park visitors and guests, Disney held a press conference at which a company spokesperson said that Disney is committed to fully cooperating with Florida Fish and Wildlife during the investigation into the recent alligator attack.
To learn more, see the AOL.com article, “Gator Attack: Disney Knew of Problems, Staffer Asked for Fence at Lagoon.”
If you have been injured, or if your loved one has been killed, due to someone else’s negligence, you need to talk to a qualified New Jersey personal injury and wrongful death lawyer immediately. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC can help you get compensation for your injuries and your loss. Contact us anytime to schedule a free consultation about your case.