Attorney David Shiner was recently interviewed in a USA Today article regarding the horrific fatal alligator attack that claimed the life of a two-year-old boy at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016. The boy had waded into the shallow water of a lagoon on the resort’s premises at the time of the attack. While there are “no swimming” signs posted on the lagoon’s beach, there are no barriers or fences to protect guests from local wildlife.
According to Attorney David Shiner, the state of Florida’s law does not require a landowner to anticipate the presence of harm from wild animals unless the owner either owns the wild animal or introduced it to the area. “They didn’t own the alligator,” Attorney Shiner said. “But if they know people are going into these areas, Disney has a duty to warn them if they knew of the presence of alligators.” If reports are to be believed, Disney did indeed have knowledge of the presence of alligators – yet did nothing about it.
The article cites that according to an insider source, Disney’s nearby Polynesian Village Resort was well aware of the issue of guests feeding alligators and had received requests from staff to erect protective fences. A man from New Hampshire claims that he was similarly attacked by an alligator at another Disney resort 30 years ago. Despite these prior concerns, no steps were taken to minimize the risks of subsequent attacks. It is speculated that Disney did not want to scare away guests with overly explicit warnings of dangerous wildlife.
Attorney Shiner went on to comment on the lack of signage. While local residents are well aware of the presence of alligators, Disney’s resorts are full of out-of-state visitors who are unfamiliar with the area. “In Florida, we know not to jump in,” he added.
The boy’s family could look to sue Disney for the wrongful death of their son, though it is unclear at this point if they have retained legal representation. Shiner added that Disney is “notorious for strongly defending all cases brought against them” and will likely attempt to settle any potential lawsuit out of court to avoid negative publicity.
Head over to USA Today for the full story.
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