Miami, Feb 11 (EFE) .- The US theme park company SeaWorld will pay $ 65 million to resolve a class action lawsuit based on the documentary ‘Blackfish’ (2013), which denounced poor living conditions for killer whales and their coaches, which ultimately generated great losses to the company.
As it was known on Tuesday through a regulatory statement that Efe had access to, the company based in Orlando, Florida, has reached this agreement before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
SeaWorld says however that the agreement does not “constitute an admission, concession or determination of fault, liability or irregularity by the company or any defendant.”RELATED
The agreement also postpones a trial scheduled for this month over a 2014 class action lawsuit, which accused the water park operator of deceiving shareholders about the commercial problems that followed the documentary ‘Blackfish’, which accused SeaWorld of abusing its whales Orca by keeping them in captivity.
The documentary, dedicated to the killer whale Tilikum – which has caused the death of three people, including two coaches -, raised many doubts about the conditions in which these cetaceans lived in the SeaWorld parks.
According to SEC, Seaworld and its former CEO James Atchison ‘made false and misleading statements or omissions in SEC documents, income and call statements, and other statements to the press about the impact of’ Blackfish ‘on business and reputation of the company ‘.
Therefore, in September 2018, SeaWorld and Atchison agreed with the SEC to pay a fine of $ 5 million for hiding from their investors the negative impact that the documentary had on the company.
Today’s agreement, of much greater amount, is still subject to the approval of a federal jury.
In it, the company will finance approximately 45.5 million dollars in insurance income and another 19.5 million in cash.
In February 2018, SeaWorld executive director Joel Manby resigned due to the group’s poor results in 2017 after a 5.5% drop in attendance at its 12 theme parks in the US.
The company reported a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2017 of $ 20.4 million, while in 2016 that figure was 11.9 million, after losing a million visitors.
After the success of ‘Blackfish’, SeaWorld’s image problems increased when three of its killer whales died within six months in 2015 in the park of San Antonio (Texas).
In 2016, SeaWorld announced the suspension of its breeding program and killer whale shows. EFE