A tragedy recently took place in the happiest place on earth. A two-year-old toddler was playing on a man-made beach with his family when an alligator dragged him off. The boy’s father tried to fight the alligator off but to no avail. Unfortunately, after a long search, rescuers found the boy’s drowned body.
There’s no question this is indeed a tragedy but is it Disney’s fault? The Huffington Post recently took on the issue with an article titled Disney Facing Potential Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Alligator Attacks Child? Spencer Aronfeld writes:
“As a business, Disney has a responsibility to ensure reasonable upkeep of its premises, which would include appropriate warning signage. While it may not be Disney’s job to protect its guests and ensure their safety at all times, the question still remains, did Disney do enough to warn its guests of the possible danger of alligators in the Seven Seas Lagoon? There is a huge difference between signs that read “No Swimming Please” and “Warning: Beware of Alligators.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee has reported that Disney routinely removes alligators from their property. That fact suggests they knew or should have known that that their waters were inhabited by alligators. It is Disney’s duty to warn the public of these known dangers. However, according to WESH 2 news, there was only one alligator warning sign found on the property by a small pond. A few miles up the road the Hyatt Grand Cypress Resort displays a similar “No Swimming” sign with a secondary warning showing a picture of an alligator and the words “Please be aware of alligators in the lake.” In this case Disney’s lack of proper signage shows negligence on their behalf in their duty of care to their guests.”
At the Law Offices of Gilbert & Smallman we’re aware of the many nuances of this case. We’ll be keeping an eye on it to see if the family does indeed bring a case and what Disney’s reaction is to it. No matter how you look at it, we’re hopeful Disney and other Florida theme parks will take further precautions to keep their guests safe.