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SeaWorld Blackfish Lawsuit Now a Class Action

Court proceedings uncover emails between SeaWorld executives that admit the damage to their business caused by animal-rights documentary Blackfish—a fact the company hid from shareholders.

Last week, United States District Court Judge Michael Anello granted class action status to a lawsuit filed against SeaWorld in 2014. A group of investors filed the initial lawsuit in southern California on the basis that SeaWorld failed to disclose the financial impact that animal-rights documentary Blackfish had on the company. “As a SeaWorld stockholder and class member in this lawsuit against the company,” Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President of animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said, “PETA looks forward to the day when the Blackfish effect forces SeaWorld to release the long-suffering marine mammals it currently holds captive into coastal sanctuaries.” Judge Anello made his decision to expand the scope of the suit—which now includes unnamed plaintiffs that held stock in the company between August 29, 2013 and August 12, 2014— after court proceedings uncovered a series of internal emails between SeaWorld executives that stated the documentary was indeed hurting its business. “Plummeting stock prices and ticket sales, scandal, and lost profits,” Reiman continued, “confirm that the company can no longer ignore or delude an outraged public that now knows that orcas swim listlessly and die prematurely in its dismal concrete tanks.”

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