Marineland intends to sue former employee for abuse allegations

Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:21 AM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

Three weeks after demanding a retraction from a former employee critical of an animal's condition at Marineland, the theme park says it intends to take legal action. Former Marineland trainer Christine Santos was threatened with a more than $1-million lawsuit following comments she made to a Toronto media outlet about the condition of a killer whale at the tourist attraction.

Read more from The London Free Press.

Related parks

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:56 AM
sws's avatar

Maybe the allegations are true, maybe it's just a disgruntled employee. However I worry when a company sues an employee for a million dollars for speaking out about alleged abuse. Talk about an environment of intimidation.

+2Loading
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:20 PM
Jeff's avatar

They certainly aren't going to win any public support by doing this either. What a boneheaded move.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

+1Loading
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 3:53 PM

I was at Marineland last February with Mr. Holer. He runs his park his way, and that is what you will hear from anyone who deals with him. I did spend about 15 minutes with Kiska, who also appeared to be in good health.

Alas, I am not a marine biologist. Thats for the courts to decide. There are two legitimate sides to this story. I did not see any of the indoor exhibits.

Last edited by Agent Johnson, Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:10 PM
+1Loading
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:02 PM
rollergator's avatar

This runs totally counter to the big pockets theory. Suing her for $1M, or $100M, still isn't going to get them any money. If the court finds in favor of Marineland, they might get some vindication, but any financial damages, attorney's fees, etc., aren't going to magically appear from nowhere. The best Marineland can do is to have the press come out and say "based on the eivdence, presented, we can't say their animals are mistreated." It's lose-lose for the park, and I wager they'll see that before pursuing this to their own detriment.

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, November 21, 2012 4:03 PM
+1Loading
Friday, November 23, 2012 7:12 PM
bjames's avatar

I don't think you guys are giving Marineland the benefit of the doubt. It's entirely possible that this person was indeed disgruntled, and there's no denying what she has said has hurt Marineland's reputation.

+0
Friday, November 23, 2012 8:19 PM
LostKause's avatar

That's about what I was thinking on this issue. You can't just go out and publicly make up lies about your former employer for whatever reason. It's very good reason for a lawsuit.

I'm not saying I believe one party or the other.

I wonder how Canananananada's laws differ from U.S. laws. Are they just about the same?


+0
Friday, November 23, 2012 9:15 PM
sws's avatar

Canada's laws are very similar to ours, except that they all end with ",eh."

+6Loading
Friday, November 23, 2012 9:25 PM
Jeff's avatar

It doesn't matter if the former employee had a grudge or whatever. There isn't any universe that the company accused of doing naughty things with cute animals is going to not do further harm to their reputation by trying to sue an alleged whistle blower. What if they did win? What would it prove, and how would it heal their reputation?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

+2Loading
Saturday, November 24, 2012 2:08 AM
bjames's avatar

It would prove they were right, and the employee was lying about the animal abuse. I don't get your point Jeff.

+0
Saturday, November 24, 2012 10:15 AM
Jeff's avatar

What's to get? What business that some find morally questionable wins anything in the court of public opinion by suing one of its employees, right or wrong?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

+0
Saturday, November 24, 2012 2:00 PM
rollergator's avatar

Jeff's closer to where I'm at....

Further, you cannot prove there was no maltreatment/abuse, only that none was provable (even if none occurred, you can't prove that none occurred - absence of evidence and all that).

Plus, you've got all the publicity about the charge - which the company only keeps in the paper and lends her charges credibility when publicly responding via lawsuit or the media. If/when the company is "vindicated"...it's after enormous amounts of damage to their reputation either way. The retration of an erroneous/falsified claim that happens as front-page news....is 3 months later and on page 37. The story is already old news by then.

+1Loading
Monday, November 26, 2012 2:08 AM

One thing that's odd about Marineland is that while it looks and feeks like a quirky regional park, it gets most of it's business through tourist spill over from Niagara Falls. The local opinion of the park is really bad. There has always been grumblings about animal abuse, but mostly that the owner and management are supposed to be very difficult to work for. But the place is crazy busy during the July and August without much local support.

A good friend and fellow coaster geek lives in the area and goes about once a week to do laps on Dragon Mountain. He said the day after the animal abuse stuff was all over the Canadian news last summer the park was rammed. Apparently the tourist business doesn't either doesn't know or doesn't care about the bad stuff in the news about the park.

Last edited by Cropsey, Monday, November 26, 2012 2:09 AM
+0
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:23 PM
Break Trims's avatar

If Canada's slander/libel common law is anything like it is here, the park would have the burden of showing these statements to have been false. Truth has always been a defense to defamation charges, no matter what the ulterior motive of the person making the statements may have been.

In short, to prove its case, Marineland must show the inherent falseness of the statements, which will necessarily involve an exhaustive discovery process of its own records. If there's an iota of truth to what the ex-employee is saying, I'm not sure how the release of this information into the public record helps Marineland. As mentioned above, the trainer is most likely what we call "uncollectable," underscoring questions as to how Marineland ultimately benefits from all this.

+0
Friday, November 30, 2012 6:55 PM
bjames's avatar

Jeff said:

What's to get? What business that some find morally questionable wins anything in the court of public opinion by suing one of its employees, right or wrong?

You're right, I have too much trust in the public and media to expect that, were this employee to be ruled against, it would be reported.

After all, the real story is the alleged animal abuse.

+0
Friday, November 30, 2012 11:04 PM

Actually with the new passport rules, Marineland lost a good percentage of US visitation, and re-marketed heavily into Ontario. The results have kept attendance steady.

The park does not follow any master plan, and builds projects as it deems fit. One must remember, it is not a Sea World in any shape or form. Nor does it pretend to be.

Canadian regulations are far less stringent than the US. The best you can hope is that all the animals are given the full 100% care and love 24/7 all year.

+0
Saturday, December 1, 2012 1:10 AM

^

Regarding the whole Canada thing;

This really doesn't make any sense and couldn't be more off base. Regulation is tighter on the vast majority of things, including the captivity of animals.

Last edited by Cypr3ss187, Saturday, December 1, 2012 1:17 AM
+2Loading
Monday, December 3, 2012 11:10 AM

bjames said:
...After all, the real story is the alleged animal abuse.

And right there is the reason MarineLand is going after the former employee. If the accusations of animal abuse are, in fact, groundless, then this former employee has cost MarineLand quite a lot, because that little word "alleged" gets completely forgotten by people who hear the news stories. This employee has put MarineLand in the news for the wrong reasons, and potentially done quite a lot of damage.

Sure, the odds of MarineLand collecting anything more tangible than a public apology from the former employee are pretty slim. But taking action against an attention-whoring whistle-blower wanna-be with an axe to grind does send a message to any other disgruntled former or eventually-will-be-former employees.

Basically, if you play in the mud, you should expect to get dirty.

The other thing that MarineLand can get out of this action would be an exoneration. It's a kind of a gutsy move on the part of the park, because as someone else pointed out, if the former employee can prove that his accusations were true, the park loses...and comes off looking even worse than when they were merely marine mammal abusers. It seems to me that this is the kind of action that the park would take only if they are (a) vindictive, petty, and stupid, *or* (b) *extremely* confident that the facts and evidence are in their favor.

Compare to that injury case that Disney finally took to trial...and won...a year or two ago.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____
/XXXXX\ /XXX\ /XXXX\_ /X\ /XXXXX\ /X\ /X\ /XXXXX
_/XXXXXXX\__/XXXXX\/XXXXXXXX\_/XXX\_/XXXXXXX\__/XXX\_/XXX\_/\_/XXXXXX

+1Loading
Monday, December 3, 2012 1:50 PM
Jeff's avatar

RideMan said:
And right there is the reason MarineLand is going after the former employee. If the accusations of animal abuse are, in fact, groundless, then this former employee has cost MarineLand quite a lot, because that little word "alleged" gets completely forgotten by people who hear the news stories. This employee has put MarineLand in the news for the wrong reasons, and potentially done quite a lot of damage.

It so doesn't matter. The court of public opinion isn't going to care one way or another. If they win, the public won't be a groundswell of, "Gee, Marineland is swell." Like I said, having animals captive is already a dubious business to be in for many people (myself not included). There is no win here. If that weren't enough, because the burden of proof is essentially on the park, as someone else pointed out, they're opening themselves up to so much discovery of what goes on internally that they're asking for people to come see their dirty laundry.

I think they need better legal advice.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2018, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...