Family sues Disney, says wild, non-venomous snake bite triggered grandma's deadly cardiac arrest

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

A well-known Orlando attorney said Thursday that he has been retained by a family who claims a snake bit their 8-year-old son at Disney's Animal Kingdom, causing the boy's grandmother to go into cardiac arrest, which caused her death.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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We have the best legal system in the world, but it is far from perfect. And this "nuisance claim" is just going to be another case that will settle before jury trial (hopefully not for a lot), the attorney will get his 40% and the family will get some spending money. It's just another paycheck for this attorney.

sws's avatar

"An attorney retained by the family of the snake is suing Disney for emotional pain and suffering."

Raven-Phile's avatar

I once was using a string trimmer around my flower beds and I accidentally clipped a hidden garter snake that was hiding in the mulch. It started bleeding and I felt bad.

That's all I have for this story, but I was traumatized, so I'm going to find someone to sue.

rollergator's avatar

This is one of those deals where Disney really has no reason to pay, but will anyway...

Which only begets more frivolous lawsuits down the road...

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Jeff's avatar

The lawyer is pretty well known in Orlando. I saw one of the Morgans on the news the other day for something, and apparently he's been on Nancy Grace. I think that's reason enough for Disney to spend the money and tell him to "bring it." If you're going to send a signal, do it with a "famous" firm.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

kpjb's avatar



I had no idea how complex personal injury litigation could be until working with our park attorneys for several years now dealing with injury claims (most of them BS cases). The whole process is quite interesting (and frustrating at times).

Interesting to note that less than 5% of personal injury claims ever make it to jury trial. Why?

The simple answer is that judges in general want cases to settle. Period. Throughout discovery, they will put enormous pressure on both plaintiff and defense council to make reasonable settlement offers/demands to settle the case. And there are proceedings that often occur before trial such as arbitration that can help steer the case to settlement.

Also worth noting is that many judges assigned to certain districts are usually there for a while. Over time, attorneys build relationships with judges and they know that they will likely appear in front of a particular judge again down the road with a different case. This all plays into the “game” that has to be considered.

So, while it may seem black and white, and digging your heals in and saying “bring it on bitch…” might seem noble and obvious, it just isn’t that simple in real life. Trying a case in front of a jury scares the crap out of just about every trial attorney. There is no such thing as a “slam dunk” case and you really never know what a jury is going to come back with.

In the end, in most cases, playing hard ball only gets you so far. Litigation costs a ton of time, resources and money the longer it goes on. There are way more moving parts than I ever realized and I’m not even an attorney. But if I had to guess, this case will settle like the 95% of them do and eventually fade off into the sunset well after this same attorney represents three other clients who slipped on banana peels at Publix.

Don’t hate the player; hate the game!

slithernoggin's avatar

There's this....

"...the boy was treated by a park nurse, who put a Band-Aid on his finger, and the family went back into the park to enjoy the rest of their day."

And there's this...

"...the boy's grandmother witnessed the incident, went into cardiac arrest and died a short time later..."

It seems dubious the family would go back into the park to enjoy the rest of their day if dear Grandma had just died.

Clearly Grandma's cardiac arrest didn't take place when she witnessed the incident, and it didn't take place when her grandson suffered the lengthy trauma of having a Band-Aid applied, and it didn't take place as the family left the First Aid station to enjoy the rest of their day in the park.

I'm not buying it.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Interesting to me that the attorney went to the press before he filed the suit.

OhioStater's avatar

rollergator's avatar

^That's two great things mashed together like a Reese's, with dark chocolate....

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

CoasterDiscern's avatar

I was going to comment on the original post, and now I cant even say anything cause that made me laugh like hell. Honestly. Everything else is just pale in comparison now. Geeez thanks guys!!

Serious note, I smell a money grab here too. Who re-enters a park after a serious event like that?!?!

Ask not what you can do for a coaster, but what a coaster can do for you.
kpjb's avatar

If I make dinner reservations 6 months ahead of time, I'm not skipping them just because gramma died. People gotta eat!


I guess Mr Kinzel has joined the Ceasterbuzz community.

Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.

LostKause's avatar

My grandmother, God rest her soul, hated snakes so much. She loved to watch Animal Planet for the fuzzy cuteness, but a lot of the shows that she liked tried to shock viewers by suddenly cutting to a snake slithering about. When this happened, she would hide her eyes and moan and groan. "Ohhhhhh Travis. Why do they always show snakeses on this channel? Ohhhhh Lordy. Ohhhh Lordy. I can't stand looking at those things. Turn that TV off..."

You'd have to know her voice to find this as funny as I do.

But the point is, I could almost believe that the trauma of seeing a snake, in person, biting a family member, could be cause for cardiac arrest for someone who is severely afraid of snakes.

However, I do not believe that Disney is responsible for the snake interacting with the family. Snakes are wild animals, and they live outdoors. The park is outdoors. Encountering a snake or any other wild animal is likely when you are outdoors, Disney, or not.

birdhombre's avatar

"The family said the snake fell from a tree and bit the boy"

If it was one of those flying snakes, I might have had a heart attack too:

Everyone's logic is spot on. The problem is that logic doesn't necessarily apply in the legal world. Especially with personal injury claims.

Here's what's likely going to happen...and I have seen this several times in situations like this.

Plaintiffs council will argue that Disney had a duty and obligation to provide a safe venue for its' guests to visit. This is basic premise liability principle. Ok, seems reasonable.

And Disney had a duty and obligation to eliminate known dangers, such as biting reptiles, from injuring guests while visiting their privately owned venue. After all, Disney should know that biting snakes live in sub-tropical climates.

But there was no signage warning guests of this potential hazard. Cast members did not warn guests of this hazard. Did the park make regular warning announcements? Can Disney produce a formal wild snake removal program; or documentation in the spirit of guest safety? Likely no. This is the crap that will be argued by plaintiffs council.

Then, plaintiffs council will hire an expert witness, or two or three, and they will testify and bridge the gap between the wrongful death of poor little grandma who witnessed this horrific incident. And it was completely preventable if Disney just did their job and provided a safe environment for their guests. You can pretty much find (hire for $$$) an expert witness to testify on anything imaginable.

This is how this crap works with good attorneys (sharks) like the one representing the family in this case. I don't agree with any of this. Logic doesn't agree with this. But this is how this BS often pans out.

The case will settle and possibly for an amount that will make your stomach turn.

slithernoggin's avatar

LostKause said:

...I could almost believe that the trauma of seeing a snake, in person, biting a family member, could be cause for cardiac arrest for someone who is severely afraid of snakes.

My problem there is, dear Grammy's cardiac arrest took place a considerable amount of time after the actual bite happened. She was clearly still among the living when "the family" -- not "the family, leaving Grandma's corpse behind" -- went back into the park from the First Aid center.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

^^I would be willing to bet that Disney does have some sort of wildlife program, to remove unwanted animals from the parks. Disney has, what 48 square miles of land? Somewhere I read that 1/3 is developed, so that leaves 32 square miles of undeveloped land.* The wild animals will move around. Even if Disney were to remove snakes from the parks, there's still a LOT of land for others to come into the park. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is no way to keep all the snakes out, but that may not make any difference in a legal trial.

*Figures may be off a bit.

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