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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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

PETA’s Frivolous Suit Against SeaWorld Alleging Orca Slavery: It Doesn’t Get Much More Black and White Than This (UPDATED 2/9/12)

On Monday, a federal magistrate judge heard argument on whether to dismiss a relatively recent lawsuit brought against SeaWorld by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”) that raises an unprecedented and patently frivolous claim – even for an organization known for taking some pretty unreasonable positions.  The lawsuit is captioned Tilikum v. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. and it is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California before Magistrate Judge William McCurine, Jr..  Now, I suspect many of you who read my blog (and thus, presumably have an interest in the amusement industry) will immediately recognize the named plaintiff despite the fact that he is not, in fact, a human being.  Tilikum is an orca – the very orca that killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau last year after a performance at SeaWorld in Orlando.  Tilikum and four other orcas, speaking (not surprisingly) through actual human beings (a procedure that I won’t get into in this article), “claim” that they are being held against their will and subjected to slavery and involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment to the United States.  The basis of such a claim?  The 13th Amendment never specifically says that it only applies to “people” so, naturally, it must also apply to orcas.  The breadth of the Plaintiffs’ argument is as utterly astounding as it is facially foolhardy and frivolous.  This is the very definition of a lawsuit brought for no other purpose than to bring publicity to the plaintiff and to harass SeaWorld.