About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

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This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The SeaWorld / OSHA Ruling: How It Happened & What It Means (UPDATED 4/14/14)

SeaWorld’s killer whale trainers are out of the water, at least for performance purposes, seemingly for good.  So says the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in SeaWorld of Florida, LLC (see update below) v. Perez – the SeaWorld OSHA appeal that I have written about previously and that featured prominently in Blackfish.  As you may recall, following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (“OSHA”) investigated and issued citations requiring, as relevant to this case, that SeaWorld immediately stop allowing its trainers into the water with orcas during performances.  Pursuant to OSHA’s ruling, SeaWorld’s trainers could only interact with the whales during performances if separated by a physical barrier that would, in effect, prevent a whale from dragging a trainer into the pool as had occurred with Ms. Brancheau.

(more after the jump)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3 Things We Learned From Yesterday's Hearing On AB2140, The So-Called "Blackfish Bill"

Yesterday, April 8, 2014, the California State Assembly's Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlilfe held its public hearing on AB2140, also known as the "Blackfish Bill."  The proposed bill would, prohibit the possession or use of killer whales for entertainment purposes in the State of California, would generally prohibit breeding of killer whales in California, and would require owners of killer whales to return them to the wild "where possible" - more on that in a minute - and where not possible to move them to sea pens.  Yesterday's hearing, which lasted about ninety minutes, featured prepared testimony from the bill's sponsor, Assembly Member Richard Bloom, three witnesses in support of the bill, and five witnesses in opposition to the bill.

As a purely practical matter, the end result of the hearing was not a clear victory for either the bill's supporters or its detractors.  The Committee decided to refer the bill for "interim study," which requires preparation of a comprehensive report on the proposed bill.  Once that study is complete, which is expected to take more than a year, another hearing will be convened to consider the bill again.  Thus, the bill is not dead, but it was not passed out of committee either. 

Aside from the bottom line result to defer a vote, the hearing offered some valuable insight into both side's positions, the legal merit of the bill, and the considerations that are likely to resonate with the Committee members when the next hearing occurs.  Although I could spend hours writing about any number of issues that were raised, I've decided to narrow it down to the three that resonated most with me from a legal perspective.