SeaWorld Entertainment, which has been under a barrage of criticism since the release of the controversial film “Blackfish,” has filed a federal complaint against a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration agent who investigated the death of a whale trainer at its Orlando park in 2010.
The report in the Orlando Sentinel says the aquatic park filed a complaint Thursday with the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General, asking the agency to looking into the conduct of OSHA investigator Lara Padgett. The complaint accuses Padgett of leaking confidential company documents to the makers of “Blackfish.” SeaWorld alleges she obtained the information while investigating the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, who is the subject of the film that is highly critical of SeaWorld keeping killer whales in captivity.
In addition to leaking confidential information gathered during the investigation of SeaWorld’s safety practices, an AP report posted on 10News.com says the six-page complaint reveals SeaWorld believes Padgett broke the standards of ethical conduct required by federal law by socializing with the filmmakers, as well as animal rights activists. Padgett has attended film festivals with the movie’s makers, and has taken to social media to voice her support of “Blackfish.”
“We believe that this conduct demonstrates that she was influenced by improper considerations, and failed to bring the appropriate objectivity, in the investigation of the death of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld of Florida,” the complaint says. “We believe that this continues to influence her ongoing enforcement efforts with regard to SeaWorld.”
Brancheau was killed when a 12,000-pound killer whale pulled the trainer into the pool, drowning her.