When people think of Disney World they think of magic. After all, the brand is created around the phrase “happiest place on Earth.” On Tuesday, June 14th the same place that has magical memories for hundreds of thousands of families became one family’s worst nightmare. On the beach of the Grand Floridian, a 2-year-old child was attacked and dragged to the depths of Seven Seas Lagoon. With the death of a child comes varying emotions which usually lead to lawsuits. The question in it all will be who takes the liability?
If you’re following this case, get familiar with the term liability. Liability is the state of being responsible for something. In insurance or even in court proceedings in order to have liability placed on a person, or this matter a major corporation, they must be found negligent. We see this often in a fast food chain where a wet floor signed should’ve been placed, but wasn’t and a consumer fell and injured themselves. As a venue where the general public visits, there is a civic duty to either eliminate a danger to guests or provide adequate warning. In the case of the Disney World, no swimming signs were posted along the beach. In defense of Disney, initial reports are stating that they were unaware of alligators living in the lake. But as more information surfaces, it’s being stated that alligators had been sighted numerous times, reported by employees, and even removed from the Seven Seas Lagoon. If prior knowledge of the danger was in fact known, it may be hard to state that they had no knowledge that there was even a threat. The other argument that Disney may have is something called Assumption of Risk. This defense will usually reduce or take away a settlement if the defendant (Disney World) can prove that plaintiff (Graves family) assumes a certain amount of risk by choosing certain actions. In this case, alligators are known worldwide for inhabiting Florida therefore the family assumed the risk when entering the body of water. While the chances of that defense eliminating the settlement are small, it may help to reduce the settlement. As rumors swirl around what will be, with a case so public and an entity so big the one thing guaranteed is that that whatever lawsuit comes about it will be for millions of dollars.
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