Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh wrote dissenting opinion in SeaWorld OSHA case following death of trainer

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, Brett Kavanaugh, played a key role in SeaWorld’s legal battle with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following the death of a killer whale trainer. He argued that killer whale trainers were no different than professional athletes, race car drivers or others who willingly participate in risky jobs.

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It's a pretty weak argument. Both the NFL and NASCAR regularly work to improve the safety of its participants. Look at film from the 1980s compared with current day. The NFL is a completely different game with far more safety for its players. Hits to the head were commonplace back then. NASCAR is safer than ever. There hasn't been a fatality in 17 years. That doesn't happen by accident. SeaWorld knew that Tilikum was dangerous and still had trainers in the water with him. Period.

Just like stunt devils and construction workers right? I don't see ppl protesting movies, bridges or buildings.

Jeff's avatar

This wasn't some unknown risk to the trainers. SeaWorld wasn't making anyone do anything they didn't want to. Even Dawn's family has said publicly that prohibiting the trainers from being in the water with them is an overstep of OSHA.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

ApolloAndy's avatar

But Mulfinator said “Period” so the discussion is over.

Last edited by ApolloAndy,

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

bjames's avatar

Sheesh. I come to websites like this to escape all the political bs that bombards me constantly.


"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Jeff's avatar

It's industry relevant. Shall we clear all news items with you before posting?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I don't understand the "willful violation" position. The aspects of the job were about as public as it gets. If there was a regulation violation, OSHA should have been able to cite it before the incident. It sounds like an ex post facto regulation to me.

Mulfinator said:

SeaWorld knew that Tilikum was dangerous and still had trainers in the water with him. Period.

Guess what? They're all dangerous animals and capable of doing the same thing. And every trainer that got in the water with them knew that and accepted the risk.


TheAcrophobicEnthusiast's avatar

Every man for himself in the bold new conservative America.


The best of all the jokers is clearly Mark Hamill.

Jeff's avatar

What people are labeling as "conservative" isn't conservative at all. Authoritarianism, blind nationalism and fascism are not conservative.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

^^ It's sad when the webmaster of a roller coaster enthusiast website has more common sense and a realistic point of view than some of those actively working in both journalism and government.

How did he play "a key role" when he wrote a losing opinion?

Dissenting opinions are not "losing" opinions and can be extremely important for how the court rules in future cases. Much of the basis for the majority decision in Brown v. Board of Education rested in a dissenting opinion from Plessy v. Ferguson.


Replace him with another judge and the fine may have been upheld 3-0 rather than 2-1. And whether his dissent has any impact on future decisions remains to be seen. It may well have no impact at all.

Article is an example of taking a current event and searching for a connection (no matter how tenuous or tangential) to your group, cause, etc. and using the current event to get more clicks.

Did Sea World not lose this appeal? The vote was 2-1, I don't think too many people have a problem with saying the 2 was the winning side, and the 1 was the losing side.

Jeff's avatar

BrettV said:
^^ It's sad when the webmaster of a roller coaster enthusiast website has more common sense and a realistic point of view than some of those actively working in both journalism and government.

Hilariously, I have a degree in journalism and worked in local government for years. If I had a reality TV show, I would probably be qualified to be president.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

bigboy said:

Guess what? They're all dangerous animals and capable of doing the same thing. And every trainer that got in the water with them knew that and accepted the risk.

I stand corrected. Trainers were not allowed in the pool with Tilikum upon his arrival at Sea World.

However, I find it interesting that people can speak about the mindset of every trainer that ever got in the water. OSHA concluded in 2007 that "that swimming with captive orcas is inherently dangerous, and if someone hasn't been killed already, it is only a matter of time before it does happen". Yet Sea World disputed this statement and OSHA eventually withdrew it. So either Sea World did not believe that swimming with orcas was dangerous or they were trying to conceal the danger. Sea World again claimed in 2012 that it was unaware that working with killer whales posed a hazard to its employees after being fined by OSHA. Even if we accept that all trainers were aware of the danger and still did their job that doesn't mean that Sea World acted in the best interests of its employees. If their safety protocols neglected recognizing an orca as a dangerous animal then they were inadequate.

Jeff said:

Hilariously, I have a degree in journalism and worked in local government for years. If I had a reality TV show, I would probably be qualified to be president.

Sadly having an understanding of how government works now precludes you from becoming president.

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

Jeff said:

Hilariously, I have a degree in journalism and worked in local government for years. If I had a reality TV show, I would probably be qualified to be president.

You're an American citizen and at least 35 years of age. You are already qualified to run for president...

Now getting the 270 votes in the Electoral college? That's a different story. :)

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