Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Criminal Investigation by Dept of Justice is a Big Can of Worms for SeaWorld

A new article by Kyle Swenson at the Washington Post has SeaWorld in, what some describe as, big trouble. His story lays out The Blackfish Effect onto the company, blow by blow; a can of worms for a captivity corporation who is facing increased public scrutiny & numerous allegations contained in class action lawsuits. 

Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years

In February of 2017 U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled that a class-action lawsuit filed against SeaWorld, for false advertising, can move forward; important as SW was feverishly trying to have the case thrown out so it could avoid legal discovery. Discovery is a nightmare for the captivity corporation; one that has a lot to hide. The company is still trying to block discovery by designating its orca medical records (documents key to the case) as "secret." 

In regard to the newly described federal investigation at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), many of us "Superpod-ers" were watching the alleged fraudulent statements from SeaWorld and associated SEAS stock collapse happen in real time. Its a breath of fresh air during a time when it's easy to question whether malfeasant corporations ever receive justice. 

Today's stock report shows the Blackfish Effect. Note the one day collapse in August of 2014

We also speculated that BlackStone rushed the initial public offering (IPO) back in April 2013, so to best extract maximum wealth out of the marine-circus before it started to tailspin from the foreseeable Blackfish Effect. 

The Washington Post piece is the first time the impact of Blackfish (on SW) as well as the executive response has been articulated in an accurate, chronological and nearly comprehensive way. Also, it specifically mentions the Blackfish Effect, a term coined by the filmmakers 

According to Swenson at WaPost: 

In court documents filed last Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice asked a California judge to temporarily pause depositions in an ongoing shareholders lawsuit against the theme park chain.

Sandra Moser, the acting chief of the DOJ’s fraud section, petitioned the court for a temporary stay while the government conducts an “ongoing federal criminal investigation,” the filing stated. 
The documents indicate the investigation concerns “disclosures and public statements made by” the company and executives “regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary.” 

Those concerns echo the allegations shareholders leveraged in the 2014 lawsuit, which accuses the company of purposely deceiving investors about the business hit triggered by the exposé. SeaWorld has previously denied any wrongdoing and is fighting the lawsuit.

This new can of worms is both legal & perceptual for SeaWorld. The executives have consistently tried to blame their collapsing public appeal and overall value on anything but the truth. They've unloaded their holdings while simultaneously describing that everything was "OK" to their investors. It seems like a clear case of fraud, at least to some of us.

In Memory of our Friend Sam Simon 
Perhaps one day SeaWorld will #EmptyTheTanks & move its marine mammals to seaside sanctuaries or open ocean pens, where they can continue to receive medical care, live in cleaner chemical-free water, feel the tides, interact with fish, kelp and other sea life. 

This story tees up the case for the class action suits that follow

Gif file compiled by Jeffrey Ventre from #Superpod4, Salish Sea, WA, USA


Supplemental material: 


Author:   Jeffrey Ventre is a board certified medical doctor in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). He treats patients with physical impairments from back pain & stroke, to spinal cord & brain injuries. He worked with SeaWorld killer whales Katina, Tilikum, Kalina, Gudrun, Nyar, Kanduke, Kotar, Taku & favorite, Taima. JV appears in Blackfish movie along with Carol Ray, Samantha Berg, and John Jett. The four ex SW trainers, collectively "Voice of the Orcas" or VOTO, appear in Voiceless film, Death at SeaWorld & JV & JJ appear in New York Times best seller & Good Reads choice award winner (2015) Beneath the Surface, by John Hargrove. 

Associated reading: Blackstone Nearly Triples Money on SeaWorld Amid Controversy

The complete article can be read here:

NOTE: Credit to the artists who produced the gif files used in this article. They were circulated publicly without attribution on social media