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Plaintiffs Seek Early Trial Date to Reveal the Truth about SeaWorld’s Captive Orcas

| Mark J. Palmer
Topics: Lawsuit, Orcas, SeaWorld

Plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit against SeaWorld for its misleading and false advertising about the health and welfare of their captive orcas announced that they will not seek class certification in hopes of expediting their trial date. This decision comes after several delays caused by a criminal investigation of SeaWorld and additional delays caused by SeaWorld’s filing of numerous, unsuccessful motions seeking dismissal of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit never sought monetary damages on behalf of the class.  Instead, it had focused on obtaining an injunction against SeaWorld to prevent SeaWorld from disseminating false and misleading information about the health and treatment of their captive orcas.  That objective can be met by the Plaintiffs proceeding in their individual capacities and without seeking class certification.

“Various events outside our control, including the U.S. Department of Justice investigation, have contributed to delays in our case,” Christine Haskett, partner at Covington & Burling LLP and Plaintiffs’ attorney in the lawsuit, noted.   “Plaintiffs want to avoid further delays and focus on bringing this case to trial.”

David Phillips, Director of the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, a consultant on the case for Covington & Burling LLP, concurred.   “We believe it is in the best interest of the captive orcas at SeaWorld that the truth come out. A speedy trial will achieve that.”

In February the court denied most of SeaWorld’s fourth motion to dismiss the case and SeaWorld’s motion to sanction the attorneys.   SeaWorld’s motions and other delaying tactics, while rejected, have also slowed the case down.

David Phillips concluded:  “SeaWorld needs to start telling people the truth:  Orcas in their care die an early death compared to wild orcas.  SeaWorld separates orca mothers from their calves. Virtually all male orcas in SeaWorld’s care have dorsal fins that droop, something rarely seen in wild male orcas.  Orcas are not ‘happy’ in captivity, but instead have to be given drugs such as anti-depressants, antibiotics, anti-anxiety compounds and antacids for stomach upset.”