November 3, 2017
On November 3, 2017, Judge Michael M. Anello of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued an order granting in substantial part a motion filed by NPR and its co-Lead Counsel, which sought to unseal certain evidence SeaWorld produced in the litigation and improperly marked “confidential” and which NPR sought to use in support of its motion for class certification. Because SeaWorld improperly marked this evidence as “confidential”, Lead Plaintiffs were forced to file such evidence under seal. On July 20, 2017, NPR filed a motion seeking to unseal this evidence.
Based on the briefing NPR filed, Judge Anello granted in substantial part Lead Plaintiffs’ motion and ordered that seven exhibits filed in support of the motion for class certification be unsealed and publicly filed. On November 8, 2017, NPR refiled the seven unsealed documents. Soon thereafter, numerous national media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel and WKMG Orlando, published articles regarding Judge Anello’s ruling and the now-publicly disclosed and damning evidence.
In this case, NPR serves as Co-Lead Counsel on behalf of Lead Plaintiffs Arkansas Public Retirement System and Pensionskassen For Børne-Og Ungdomspædagoger, representing a class of investors in securities of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. The class alleges that SeaWorld made false and misleading statements concerning the cause of its unprecedented attendance declines and other business concerns in 2013 and 2014, which came on the heels of a documentary, Blackfish—a film that indicted SeaWorld’s core business and operations and sparked public outrage over the Company’s treatment of its orca whales. The class asserts claims under Section 10b and Rule 10b-5 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against SeaWorld and certain of its former officers, and under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against the officers and the private equity firm that took SeaWorld public in 2013, The Blackstone Group, L.P. On May 19, 2017, NPR and KTMC moved for class certification of the class’ securities fraud claims.
NPR’s complex litigation team—partners Jeff Angelovich, Brad Beckworth and Susan Whatley and associates Lisa Baldwin, Trey Duck, Drew Pate and Cody Hill—lead the prosecution of this case.