A Texas woman identified only as 'Jane Doe', has filed a lawsuit in Orange County, Texas over a video she claims was purchased by SeaWorld, and disseminated by the 'Orlando Sentinel' and the SeaWorld-supported website, 'Awesome Ocean'.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 18, claims that the video -- which shows former SeaWorld senior trainer John Hargrove talking to Doe, was taken without permission and paints the plaintiff in a negative light.
The lawsuit names two other people in the court documents published by the 'Times of San Diego', former SeaWorld employees James Vera and Bridgette Pirtle (now Pirtle Davis), and alleges:
Lawyers for the plaintiff claim the actions of the defendants violates several laws which constitute a cause of action under the Texas Civil Wiretap Act. As such, each is liable to the Plaintiff for actual damages, statutory damages, Exemplary damages, Prejudgment and postjudgment interest, Court costs and all other relief to which Plaintiff may be justly entitled.
When the video was released, it was timed to coincide with a book tour for John Hargrove’s book, ‘Beneath the Surface.' It resulted in one venue canceling Hargrove's appearance.
The release of the story surrounding the video appeared somewhat haphazard. It first appeared on ‘Behind the Thrills’, a website dedicated to theme parks such as SeaWorld. Almost as quickly as it appeared there, it disappeared and reappeared both at the ‘Orlando Sentinel’ and on the 'Awesome Ocean' website. The Editor-in-chief of Awesome Ocean is Eric M. Davis; SeaWorld has admitted funding the website at its inception.
The video circulated widely, appearing in media outlet inboxes accompanied by a letter from Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld’s vice president of communications. Jacobs accredited the video to an "internal whistleblower", and chose to send it out to members of the media with a cover letter condemning Hargrove.
Davis and McKinney are involved with several websites that openly support SeaWorld. Stand with SeaWorld, (admins: Eric Davis, Erin McKinney and Mike Madsen), Unofficial SeaWorld, (admins: Eric Davis, Erin McKinney, Mike Madsen), Micechat, (with authors listed as Eric Davis and Mike Madsen), and Behind the Thrills (which acknowledges Eric Davis as a colleague).
McKinney and Davis also this past week attended the IMATA conference as honored guests. The keynote speaker was Brad Andrews, Chief Zoological Officer for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment:
The seven-page court document also states that there no known address for Awesome Ocean, so whether the defendants have officially been served is unknown. Davis however, is more than aware of the plaintiff's suit, as evidenced in his opinion of it and his opinion of the plaintiff.
Read more about the lawsuit at 'The San Diego Times'.