“They knew about the alligators. They had reports from employees concerned about the alligators and yet they did nothing,” said attorney Michael Steinger of the Florida-based law firm Steinger, Iscoe & Greene.
He continued, “When you know of this danger and you fail to take action – and more so you invite guests to come to that beach to watch a movie on the sand – you have to take responsibility for the inherent danger on the lake that you’re aware of.”
The artificial lake at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where the Nebraska family was staying, covers 200 acres and is home to an unknown number of Florida’s 1.3 million alligators.
The resort did not post any gator warnings in the immediate area where the boy died — only “no swimming” signs near the lagoon.
Legal experts say the lack of warning and mechanisms in place to keep alligators away from guests could create enormous liability for Disney, which attracts 55 million visitors per year.
“They [Disney] were negligent based on a potential failure to warn and failure to act reasonably under the circumstances,” Gerson said.
Disney said in a statement that all employees at the most populated theme park in the world were devastated by the “tragic accident.”
In the wake of the boy’s death, the resort removed and killed five alligators from the lake. According to reports, Disney’s policy is to monitor the size of the gators in that lagoon, with those exceeding four feet targeted for removal. A spokesman was not immediately available to comment Thursday on the policy. The gator that killed the boy is said to be 7-feet.
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