Disney Faces PR Crisis, Risk Of Legal Action After Gator Attack


Publish Date:
June 16, 2016
  • Lisa Richwine,
  • Karen Freifeld
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June was supposed to have been a triumphant month for Walt Disney Co theme parks, with the flashy opening of a long-planned resort in Shanghai and a new Florida attraction based on its wildly popular animated movie “Frozen.”

Instead, the company is facing a public relations crisis and the possibility of legal action after an alligator snatched and killed a toddler at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida, legal and communications experts said.

Stanford Law Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom said that Disney had a duty to protect visitors from danger and that wording and placement of the signs would be carefully looked at if the case went to trial.

The company could argue that the incident was not foreseeable and that the sign was adequate, she said. But she predicted the case would not go to trial.

“The bottom line is that they have a child whose body was snatched from the parents” as they watched, she said. “I don’t think it is the kind of case where you want to be arguing the … subtle details of law.”

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