(CN) – A dolphin activist accused of trying to stop Ocean World S.A. from importing dolphins from Japan to an adventure park in the Dominican Republic is not required to hand over his financial records, a Florida appeals court ruled.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal quashed a motion compelling Richard O’Barry to produce personal tax returns, pay receipts, financial statements and banking records in his contract dispute with Ocean World, owner of the largest man-made dolphin habitat in the world.
A longtime dolphin activist, O’Barry once trained dolphins for the TV show “Flipper.” In the award-winning Sundance documentary “The Cove,” O’Barry and a group of filmmakers, activists and freedivers embark on a mission to expose dolphin slaughter in the small Japanese town of Taiji.
Ocean World accused O’Barry of intentionally interfering with its contracts with the Taiji Whale Museum in Japan, Dr. Michael Briggs and the Dominican Republic.
But Ocean World’s causes of action “do not support the request for the financial discovery,” the three-judge panel concluded.
“Specifically, the allegations directed toward O’Barry do not allege that he gained financially as a result of his alleged interference with the various business relationships.”
The court granted his petition for review and quashed the order directing discovery.
On his Web site, O’Barry says he changed his mind about dolphin captivity after Kathy, the dolphin who usually played “Flipper,” died in his arms.
He is now the marine mammal specialist for the Earth Island Institute and the director of Save Japan Dolphins.