Safety Director Claims SeaWorld Ordered Her to Obstruct Whale Death Investigation
Monday, September 20, 2010
Linda Simons, SeaWorld’s former safety director, claims she was fired for not following the orders of park officials to impede the federal government’s investigation of a trainer who was killed by an orca earlier this year.
In her lawsuit filed against SeaWorld, Simons alleges her former employer wanted her to “obstruct the investigation” as well as manipulate documents, withhold possible evidence and make witnesses unavailable.
On February 24, animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed when one of the park’s killer whales, Tilikum, pulled her underwater and drowned her.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last month it would fine SeaWorld of Florida $75,000 for three safety violations, including one related to Brancheau’s death “for exposing its employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales…with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.” Tilikum had been involved in the death of another animal trainer at Sealand of the Pacific in Vancouver in 1991.
Safety Director Claims SeaWorld Defamed Her For Refusing to Obstruct Probe of Orca Attack (by Chris Fry, Courthouse News Service)
Linda Simons v. Seaworld (Circuit Court, 18th District, Florida) (pdf)
Sea World WhistleBlower: Trainer Death Caused by Park's Negligence (by Yunji Nies and Sarah Netter, ABC-Good Morning America)
US Labor Department's OSHA Cites SeaWorld of Florida Following Animal Trainer's Death (U.S. Department of Labor)
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