News Column

SeaWorld could face legal action from investors

August 19, 2014

By Sandra Pedicini, Orlando Sentinel

Aug. 19--After last week's big stock drop, SeaWorld now could face legal action from investors.

A New York City law firm said it may file a proposed class-action lawsuit if it can show that SeaWorld previously knew the documentary "Blackfish" impacted visits to SeaWorld over the past few months. Rosen Law Firm wants to investigate "whether they were aware this movie was having a negative effect on attendance over the last six or seven months," attorney Jonathan Stern said.

Until last week's earnings report, SeaWorld said the 2013 anti-captivity documentary had a negligible effect on attendance. When reporting poor earnings Wednesday, the company said media coverage of pending legislation in California following the movie contributed to attendance declines in San Diego. The legislation would ban killer whales in captivity for entertainment purposes.

Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment's stock dropped 33 percent Wednesday after it announced the disappointing earnings for its second quarter, which ran from April through June.

Stern said the firm would look at indicators including insider stock sales. It would also look at whether SeaWorld had conducted market research that might have provided it with insight into public opinion.

Meanwhile, a San Diego group called the Shareholders Foundation also announced that an unidentified law firm is investigating possible securities law violations. The Shareholders Foundation could not be reached for comment. Stern said Shareholders Foundation is not affiliated with Rosen.

A SeaWorld spokesman said the company does not comment on the threat of litigation.

The company's stock closed Monday at $18.90. Its initial public offering price last year was $27.


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Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)

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