My report on Round 2 of the SeaWorld appeal of OSHA’s citation against SeaWorld Florida is up over at Outside Online. Here’s the lead-in:
The security guards screening visitors to the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, jokingly called it the “Flipper trial.” But when nine days of courtroom testimony on the intricacies and risks of working closely with killer whales drew to a conclusion on November 18, the federal administrative-law judge tasked with ruling on SeaWorld’s appeal of an OSHA citation knew he had a tough decision before him. “This is one of the most unusual OSHA hearings I have had,” said Judge Kenneth Welsch, explaining that most of the dangers he’d deliberated during the past 15 years were more commonplace, like employees tripping and falling. “I will have to consider it very carefully.”
Welsch will likely deliver his verdict sometime next Spring, so the case is now on hiatus as both sides sum up their arguments in legal briefs, and then Welsch plows through them and the hearing record to make his decision. It’s likely that whatever Judge Welsch decides, it will will be appealed further, so this movie could run for ages. But given the stakes for both sides, that is not surprising.
To complete the wrap up, here is an interview about the case that I did with Guy Raz of NPR’s All Things Considered, which aired last Friday.