Last Tuesday, June 14, 2016, a two-year-old boy was with his family at Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida when he was attacked by an alligator. The boy was playing in less than a foot of water when an almost 7 foot long alligator grabbed him and dragged him into the Seven Seas Lagoon by the popular Grand Floridian Hotel. After hours of searching, the boy’s body was found the next day less than 15 feet from where the alligator originally snatched him. An autopsy was performed, and the cause of death was determined to be drowning and traumatic injuries. Since his death, there have been many questions of liability regarding the incident. There were “No-swimming” signs posted around the beach and warnings regarding deep water and steep drop-offs, but there were no signs that warning of alligators. Now the question is can Disney be held liable for this boy’s death for having prior knowledge of these alligators and failing to warn its guests of the potential dangers?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that there are about 1.3 million alligators in Florida, most of these being found in the wild. Of these alligators, most do not cause problems, but there are time when alligators attack or can be a pest to communities. The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP), the program responsible for dealing with alligator-related complaints, reported receiving 13,962 nuisance alligator complaints in 2015. Disney was aware of the presence of alligators in their lakes and lagoons; it even has its own wildlife-management team. One Disney grounds keeper confirmed this and also said that the gators rarely come on shore but “you should not go in the water.” The so-called Seven Seas Lagoon where the attack happened is a man made lagoon but it is connected to other bodies of water in areas packed with alligators. During the search for the boy’s body, five alligators were removed and all were euthanized to see if one of them was the gator who attacked the child. Continue reading