Florida Judge Tosses Negligence Lawsuit Against SeaWorld

September 9, 2011

A Florida judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by New Hampshire parents who claimed their 10-year-old son suffered emotional distress when he witnessed a killer whale drown a SeaWorld trainer.

Last week, Judge Julie O’Kane ruled that Suzanne and Todd Connell’s lawsuit was futile because it did not show how SeaWorld harmed the child. In December, the judge dismissed another part of the negligence claim.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the judge’s ruling also noted she could not find any case in which a complete stranger to an injured party was allowed to go forward with a lawsuit claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Somersworth, N.H., couple and their son, Bobby, were attending the Dine With Shamu event when Tilikum, a 12,000-pound killer whale, pulled trainer Dawn Brancheau underwater.

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