SeaWorld Orlando lawyers were unsuccessful in efforts to overturn willful OSHA citations that resulted from the 2010 death of a whale trainer.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the agency called witnesses during 6 days of testimony. But SeaWorld argued OSHA did not prove willful violation or that banning trainers from close contact with whales is a “reasonable safety measure.”
Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training, testified that neither she nor the theme park intentionally disregarded trainer safety.
SeaWorld is fighting charges and a possible $75,000 fine. Trainer Dawn Brancheau was dragged into a pool and drowned by a 12,000-pound bull orca.
Among witnesses at the hearing was Jennifer Mairot, a supervisor of animal training. She described the rigorous preparation of employees who work with the killer whales, including learning to spot signs, such as widened eyes, that may signal aggression.
“The process is very refined and very, very steady,” said Mairot.
Judge Ken S. Welsch noted some valid points by SeaWorld, but he did not dismiss the case as requested.