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SeaWorld To Pay $65 Mln To Settle Blackfish Lawsuits

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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. agreed to pay $65 million to settle lawsuits filed by investors related to "Blackfish" documentary, which accused the firm of abusing its killer whales.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the theme park, which allegedly lied to investors about the film's negative impact, said it entered into settlement agreement in two cases, Baker as well as Kistenmacher.

Meanwhile, the company said the settlement does not include an admission, concession, or finding of any fault, liability, or wrongdoing.

The class action lawsuits were commenced in 2014, and the proposed settlement is subject to certain conditions, including court approval.

Under the agreements, the Orlando, Florida-based company will pay approximately $33.0 million in insurance proceeds for the Baker case. The settlement also includes $12.5 million of insurance proceeds related to the Kistenmacher case. Further, the company will make a payment of approximately $19.5 million from its cash.

The settlements cover claims alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as well as the costs of administration and legal fees and expenses.

The lawsuits are related to the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" that highlighted the life of orca Tilikum, which killed a SeaWorld trainer during a show in 2010, as well as the company's alleged abuse on its killer whales.

The negative impact by the film had resulted in very weak attendance and revenue for SeaWorld. However, the company then claimed the drop were not related to the documentary.

In 2018, the company had reportedly agreed to pay more than $5 million for misleading investors about the film's impact on its business.

Following a campaign by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, SeaWorld last week announced that its trainers will no longer ride on dolphins in shows at its theme parks.

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