SeaWorld defamed Linda Simons after she went public with her whistleblower charges

May 1, 2010

Linda SimonsTHE DEFAMATION (SLANDER, LIBEL) COMPLAINT:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

LINDA SIMONS,
Plaintiff,
v. Case No.:
SEAWORLD OF FLORIDA LLC, SEA
WORLD LLC, SEAWORLD PARKS &
ENTERTAINMENT INC., and SEAWORLD
PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT LLC,
Defendants.

_______________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendants, SEAWORLD LLC, SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT, INC., SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT LLC, and SEAWORLD OF FLORIDA LLC, (hereinafter referred to as Defendants), and alleges the following:
1. This is an action in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this Court.
2. Plaintiff is a resident of Brevard County.
3. Defendant SEAWORLD OF FLORIDA LLC is a Florida Corporation authorized and doing business in the State of Florida.
4. Defendant SEA WORLD LLC is a Foreign Corporation authorized and doing business in the State of Florida.
5. Defendant SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT, INC. is a Foreign Corporation authorized and doing business in the State of Florida.
6. Defendant SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT LLC is a Foreign Corporation authorized and doing business in the State of Florida.
7. Venue is proper in Brevard County because the bulk of the damages occurred in Brevard County. Additionally, Defendants are headquartered in Orange County, a County which is adjacent to Brevard County, encompassed by the Fifth District. Defendants are powerful corporations which are an integral part of the Orange County Economy. Plaintiff requires a neutral venue, such as Brevard County, in order to have a fair trial.

BACKGROUND
8. On February 16th, 2010, Plaintiff was hired by Defendants as the Director of Health and Safety.
9. On February 24, 2010, Defendants’ employee, Dawn Brancheau, was killed by an Orca.
10. On February 24, 2010, OSHA, a Federal Agency, began an in depth investigation.
11. Plaintiff was assigned as the liaison between Defendants and the OSHA investigation.
12. Plaintiff was told by Defendants to obstruct the investigation, manipulate documents, withhold documents, make witnesses unavailable, and other improprieties which were unlawful, when a government agency is doing an investigation.
13. Plaintiff voiced her concerns with management and refused to participate in the illegal actions which were demanded by Defendants.
14. On or about April 22, 2010, Plaintiff was terminated, in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 660, and F.S. 448.102(2) and 448.102(3), for cooperating with an OSHA investigation.
15. In May, 2010 Plaintiff filed an OSHA retaliation complaint.
16. In August 2010, Plaintiff filed a request for arbitration to address her employment dispute issues, as required by Defendants’ mandatory arbitration program.
17. On August 23, 2010, an OSHA investigation report found Defendants to have acted with reckless disregard for human life and fined Defendants the maximum fine of $70,000.00.
18. Prior to the OSHA report coming out, there were two reports that were being contemplated by OSHA. One by the OSHA investigator, Laura Pagett, and one which was crafted by the OSHA Atlanta office. Due to “political pressures,” the OSHA Atlanta office and the OSHA Washington Office got involved in the preparation of the reports.
19. Plaintiff, in order to bring the events that were transpiring to the public, decided to truthfully convey what was occurring to many forms of the media.
20. On August 23, 2010, Plaintiff appeared in Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Larry King Live, and participated in many other interviews.
21. On August 24, 2010, Plaintiff also appeared on MSNBC and Fox Business Network, as well as gave many other interviews.
22. Additionally, Plaintiff spoke with many newspapers including the Chicago Sun, the New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, and many others.
23. In response, Defendants set out a massive false Public Relations campaign to defame and slander Plaintiff.
24. All of the actionable claims of Plaintiff that form part of this complaint occurred on or after August 20, 2010.
25. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay him a reasonable fee.

COUNT I
DEFAMATORY SLANDER PER SE AND PER QUOD
26. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 25 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
27. After August 20, 2010 Defendants made numerous false and defamatory statements concerning Plaintiff.
28. The slanderous statements were unprivileged and were made public to third parties. The third parties included The Good Morning America Show, Larry King Live, MSNBC, newspapers from around the world, and many others.

29. The slanderous statements include:
a. Ms. Simons is extorting Defendants.
b. Plaintiff was terminated from Defendants due to poor performance.
c. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself to the acceptable standards of competence.
d. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with transparency.
e. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with integrity.
f. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with professionalism.
g. Ms. Simons claims against Defendants are false.
h. Ms. Simons has brought upon unfounded charges.
i. Ms. Simons asked for money in exchange to not go public with her claims.

30. At the time of the termination, Defendants offered money to the Plaintiff in exchange for Plaintiff’s silence and release of her claims. Plaintiff refused to sign the agreement.
31. Defendants’ statements were intentional and malicious. In the alternative, they were negligent.
32. The above statements are defamatory and/or are susceptible of a defamatory meaning in that they subject Plaintiff to hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt, ridicule, obloquy, and disgrace.
33. The above statements and their meanings are false and Defendants, at the time of making the statements, knew they were false or had serious doubts as to their truth.
34. The above statements are assertions of fact, not opinions.
35. As a direct and proximate result of the above slanderous statements, Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS, has sustained direct or indirect pecuniary loss including, but not limited to, lost earnings, lost working time, loss of fees, business, reputation, personal growth, and loss of ability to earn money. Additionally, Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS, has sustained shame, mental anguish, personal humiliation, hurt feelings, mental suffering, and injury to reputation and health, in the past and in the future. All of the above damages are continuing and permanent in nature.
36. Additionally, as a result of the slanderous statements, Plaintiff has been damaged. The slanderous statements were a direct attack on Plaintiff’s professional character and standing. Additionally, the slanderous statements contain allegations that Plaintiff has committed a crime of moral turpitude.
37. Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages in this case as the above slanderous statements were made maliciously, willfully, wantonly, and with a reckless disregard for the rights of Plaintiff. The primary purpose in making the above statements was to indulge ill will, hostility and to harm the Plaintiff. The statements were designed to destroy the reputation of Plaintiff for Defendants’ pecuniary gain and furtherance of their false Public Relations campaign at the unjust expense of Plaintiff.
38. Additionally, Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief to prevent Defendants from continuing to defame Plaintiff.
WHEREFORE Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS sues the Defendants for injunctive relief to prevent and stop Defendants from continuing to slander and defame Plaintiff, compensatory and punitive damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this Court, plus costs, interest and all other damages which Plaintiff may be entitled to, and demand trial by jury.
COUNT II
DEFAMATORY LIBEL
39. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 38 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
40. After August 20, 2010 Defendant made numerous false and defamatory libelous written statements concerning Plaintiff in written form.
41. One of the libelous statements is attached as Exhibit A.
42. The libelous statements were unprivileged and were made public to third parties. The third parties included The Good Morning America Show, Larry King Live, MSNBC, newspapers from around the world, and many others.
43. The slanderous statements include:
a. Ms. Simons is extorting SeaWorld.
b. Plaintiff was terminated from SeaWorld due to poor performance.
c. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself to the acceptable standards of competence.
d. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with transparency.
e. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with integrity.
f. Ms. Simons repeatedly demonstrated an inability to conduct herself with professionalism.
g. Ms. Simons claims against SeaWorld are false.
h. Ms. Simons has brought upon unfounded charges
i. Ms. Simons asked for money in exchange to not go public with her claims.

44. Defendants’ statements were intentional and malicious. In the alternative, they were negligent.
45. The above written statements are defamatory and/or are susceptible of a defamatory meaning in that they subject Plaintiff to hatred, distrust, ridicule, obloquy, contempt, and disgrace.
46. The above written statements and their meanings are false, and Defendants, at the time of making the written statements, knew they were false or had serious doubts as to their truth.
47. The above written statements are an assertion of facts, not opinions.
48. As a direct and proximate result of the above libelous statements, Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS, has sustained direct or indirect pecuniary loss including, but not limited to, lost earnings, lost working time, loss of fees, business, reputation, personal growth, and loss of ability to earn money. Additionally, Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS, has sustained shame, mental anguish, personal humiliation, hurt feelings, mental suffering, and injury to reputation and health, in the past and in the future. All of the above damages are continuing and permanent in nature.
49. Additionally, as a result of the libelous statements, Plaintiff has been damaged. The libelous statements were a direct attack on Plaintiff’s professional character and standing. Additionally, the libelous statements contain allegations that Plaintiff has committed a crime of moral turpitude.
50. Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages in this case as the above libelous statements were made maliciously, willfully, wantonly, and with a reckless disregard for the rights of Plaintiff. The primary purpose in making the above statements was to indulge ill will, hostility and to harm the Plaintiff. The written statements were designed to destroy the reputation of Plaintiff for Defendants’ pecuniary gain and furtherance of their false Public Relations campaign at the unjust expense of Plaintiff.
WHEREFORE Plaintiff, LINDA SIMONS sues the Defendants for injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this Court, plus costs, interest, and all other damages which Plaintiff may be entitled to, and demand trial by jury.

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.
DATED this _____ day of August, 2010.

ARCADIER & ASSOCIATES, P.A.

___________________________
Maurice Arcadier, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 131180
Attorneys for Plaintiff
2815 W. New Haven Ave., #304
W. Melbourne, Florida 32904
Phone: (321) 953-5998
Fax: (321) 953-6075

More Information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQagimoMvVM
Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Closed
Date Filed: May, 2010

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