In the aftermath of the tragic death of a 2-year-old boy who was killed by an alligator at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa earlier this month, legal experts are weighing in on what responsibility Disney bears and what their best legal strategy is.
The boy was visiting the Orlando resort with his parents when he was grabbed by an alligator in a shallow lagoon on the property. Although wildlife officials say that such attacks are uncommon, the state is home to some 1.3 million alligators.
Although there were "no swimming" signs near the lagoon, no signs were posted in the area warning visitors about alligators. The resort had reportedly been warned about the presence of alligators by concerned employees.
One attorney told CBS News about a visit to another Disney resort just a few miles away during which his young son was nearly attacked by two alligators. He says that when he reported the incident to the hotel staff, he was shocked by the response. He says they told him that the alligators were just "pets."
So why didn't Disney take more serious measures to protect its guests, or at least more clearly warn them of the presence of alligators? One attorney speculates that cautionary signs and barricades "might lessen the 'magical experience' of Disney." Of course, the whole fantasy aura around Disney could lead visitors to believe that they're safer than they are.
Disney could face a huge liability for the boy's death, although there's no word that the boy's family has yet filed a lawsuit. It's likely, according to some legal experts, that Disney will attempt to settle with the family out of court as soon as possible rather than call more attention to the tragedy.
Significant added precautionary measures and safety enhancements are likely. Shortly after the boy's death, the resort killed five of the alligators in the lake. Disney has said little beyond expressing its condolences to the family and saying that its employees are devastated.
Not all property owners are as motivated to settle a premises liability case as Disney likely is here. That's why it's essential to have the guidance of a Mississippi attorney who has experience in these cases and can work to ensure that you get the compensation to which you're entitled.
Source: Fox News, "Gator tragedy leaves Disney facing legal nightmare, say experts," Cristina Corbin, June 16, 2016