SAN DIEGO, California — A new class action lawsuit joins in the relentless criticism of SeaWorld. Investors are seeking to recover losses through the suit, claiming that SeaWorld violated securities law by deceiving investors for not initially acknowledging the effects of the 2013 documentary Blackfish on park attendance.
SeaWorld stock plummeted 33%, $9.25 per share, in August of 2014. The drop came following SeaWorld’s announcement of falling earnings, and acknowledgement that negative publicity affected earnings results, according to the Rosen Law Firm. Rosen has filed the lawsuit on behalf of investors who lost money in the stock drop. Previously, SeaWorld reportedly cited holidays and weather among contributing factors to sluggish turnout.
Attorney Jonathan Stern, a representative for a Michigan SeaWorld investor involved in the suit quoted by the San Diego Union Tribune, said, “It violates securities laws if you know the reason and don’t tell investors the real reason for that problem,”.
SeaWorld has been facing strong opposition for some time from animal rights activists like PETA and others, which not long ago culminated in a controversial and strongly anti-SeaWorld documentary titled Blackfish in July of 2013. In the film, the park is criticized for practices and incidents, including trainer and audience safety accidents, and the use of an Orca that killed a trainer.
The family of a SeaWorld trainer killed by the park’s Orca Tillikum issued a statement in response to Blackfish in January 2014 that included the following: “Dawn Brancheau believed in the ethical treatment of animals. Dawn followed her dreams and became a marine animal trainer. She loved the whales and was proud of her work as a trainer. Dawn thrived on introducing the whales to the audience and educating them about the animals in her care. Dawn would not have remained a trainer at SeaWorld for 15 years if she felt that the whales were not well cared for.”
Some of the opposition to SeaWorld has been subject to legal challenge itself. Jackass stuntman Steve-O, once of MTV fame, now faces potential fines for a stunt involving replacing a word on a freeway sign so that the sign read, “SeaWorld SUCKS,” Breitbart reported last week. PETA staff has reportedly pledged to pay up to $7,000 of any fines levied.
More recently, PETA has been forcing anti-SeaWorld ads on airports like San Diego International, using legal action to do so. PETA reportedly sued the San Diego airport after it refused to put up anti-SeaWorld ads, and now repeatedly places its attack ads there. PETA is now considering legal action against an Orlando airport, reported the Orlando Sentinel, targeting SeaWorld’s Florida location. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has even changed its policies to avoid being forced to accept the ads after watching them be forced on San Diego.
“PETA should consider how many animals would benefit if the money spent on airport advertising was instead used to help animals in need,” SeaWorld has stated, according to the Sentinel.
California legislators have also jumped on the bandwagon of those working to afflict SeaWorld’s operations. Breitbart News reported in May on California State Assembly Bill 2140, through which “Captive breeding programs and orca shows, including those at SeaWorld, would be shut down and dismantled.” However, that bill has been delayed at least a year, allowing for additional study.
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