Dispute Ends Over Whale Trainer’s Drowning Tape

     (CN) – A federal judge ended the dispute to restrict who can access footage that shows an orca drowning a SeaWorld whale trainer in its tank.
     Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau died in February 2010 during a public whale show known as “Dine With Shamu” at SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium in Orlando. Tilikum, a 20-foot-long male orca, dragged the 40-year-old Brancheau by her hair and drowned her.
     While investigating Brancheau’s death, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration obtained a surveillance video showing portions of the attack and the efforts to rescue Brancheau and recover her body. The sheriff’s office and medical examiner who investigated the death agreed to keep the materials confidential, and OSHA claimed it would only use them in investigating SeaWorld.
     Brancheau’s family nevertheless filed a lawsuit in 2011 to stop those with access to the video from ever disclosing it to the public.
     In October 2011, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell said SeaWorld, which owns the video, could intervene in the case to protect its intellectual property. SeaWorld had asked the court to have OSHA return its video at the end of the investigation, and it raised claims under the Lanham Act to protect its marks.
     The court dismissed the family’s claims in January 2012, and ruled later that year that it lacked jurisdiction to review SeaWorld’s allegations.
     After the 11th Circuit dismissed the family’s appeal in March this year, Presnell asked the parties to submit status reports addressing any remaining claims.
     The judge closed the case Friday, concluding there was nothing left for the federal court to decide.

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