SeaWorld Settles Securities Class Action for $65M
By Attorney Jared Levy
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. recently settled a securities class action for $65 million, where investors alleged SeaWorld misled them about park attendance declines following the release of the 2013 documentary ,“Blackfish.” The documentary depicted the brutality involved in capturing killer whales and the hazards that SeaWorld’s trainers faced.
The securities class action – filed in 2014 – alleged that SeaWorld blamed poor attendance on factors other than the documentary before ultimately admitting that Blackfish-related issues were the cause. The plaintiffs alleged that shares plummeted 33% after SeaWorld’s admission.
The investors achieved class certification in late 2017. The investors avoided summary judgment by citing, in part, its expert witness’s opinion that SeaWorld’s share price had dropped specifically because of the belated admission that Blackfish was causing the attendance decline.
The court must still approve the proposed $65 million settlement. According to SeaWorld’s SEC filing, insurers would pay about $45.5 million, and SeaWorld would contribute $19.5 million, towards the settlement.
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