SeaWorld to pay $65M over accusations it lied about 'Blackfish' film impact

SeaWorld said it would settle two lawsuits without admitting liability or wrongdoing

SeaWorld will pay up $65 million over accusations the company violated sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and lied about the impact of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" on the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday.

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SeaWorld will enter into two separate settlement agreements over two 2014 lawsuits, a class action lawsuit and a shareholder derivative lawsuit. The settlement agreements have yet to be approved by the court.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
SEASSEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT INC27.680.000.00%

"The proposed settlement does not include or constitute an admission, concession, or finding of any fault, liability, or wrongdoing by the Company or any defendant," SeaWorld wrote in the filing.

SeaWorld will fund the settlements with approximately $45.5 million in insurance proceeds and approximately $19.5 million in company cash.

In this April 10, 2014, file photo, Sea World trainer Aubrey Taylor interacts with Bossa the dolphin, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

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SeaWorld also made headlines this week after announcing the company will stop trainers from riding on the noses and backs of dolphins following pressure from extreme animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of animals.

SeaWorld and one of the company's former CEOs agreed to pay a $5 million fine in 2018 to settle fraud charges for misleading investors about the impact "Blackfish" was having on the business.

In 2013, "Blackfish" documented and criticized SeaWorld's treatment of its orcas (killer whales) and received significant media attention after the film's debut.

According to the SEC's complaint, it took over a year before SeaWorld would acknowledge that its declining attendance was partially caused by the negative publicity from the film. When it did on Aug. 13, 2014, SeaWorld’s stock price fell, causing significant losses to shareholders.

This story includes material from previous FOX Business reports.