A San Diego-based company that owned the dolphins that died at SeaWorld amusement parks is getting $2 million in damages from the entertainment company, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday.
SeaWorld Entertainment and its parent company, Orlando Theme Parks, settled a lawsuit brought by a family of SeaWorld park visitors last year in which they alleged that SeaWorld’s “SeaWorld Resorts” dolphin parks were cruel and inhumane.
The lawsuit alleged that some of the park’s dolphins were tortured to death and some had their teeth knocked out, which made them look sick.
The $2,500,000 payout to the plaintiffs’ estate is in addition to $600,000 in damages the company paid the family for legal fees and other expenses in connection with the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in February 2017, alleged that, “SeaConsult International Inc., SeaConsult and its wholly owned subsidiaries, are liable for the negligent and tortious conduct of SeaConsulture, including the negligent killing of SeaConConsult’s SeaWorld Respiratory Dolphin Program animals in violation of federal and state laws and regulations, as well as tortious interference with the rights of its employees, the general public and its own employees and members of the SeaConsConsult staff, including its employees.”
In December 2017, the jury awarded the family $500,00 for their “actual damages.”
The jury was also awarded $200,000 for emotional distress, $100,000 as punitive damages and $75,000 to cover legal fees.
The settlement with SeaConsuse includes a commitment to take steps to improve “the environment for SeaConsults employees, including training, training facilities, education, and training for SeaConconsult employees to be able to work safely, responsibly and compassionately,” according to the announcement.
The company also agreed to improve its “animal welfare” policies, which include “better training and training programs to train staff to ensure the humane care and treatment of the animals in its parks,” according the announcement, and also to conduct an investigation into “any concerns of employee mistreatment, including animal cruelty, abuse, neglect and death of animals.”
In a statement to Reuters, SeaConserve said the settlement with the plaintiffs is a “step in the right direction” and “will help to ensure that the parks are safe and enjoyable for our guests and employees.”
SeaConserve and SeaConsource said in a joint statement that the settlement is not a final judgment.
It will not affect SeaConservation’s efforts to bring a class action lawsuit against SeaCons, which has been on trial since 2018.
A spokeswoman for SeaWorld Entertainment said in an email that SeaConsus and SeaCruise have been in contact about the settlement.