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Mediation ordered in SeaWorld death video case

By the CNN Wire Staff
Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed last month at SeaWorld Orlando.
Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed last month at SeaWorld Orlando.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Trainer Dawn Brancheau's death was caught on tape at SeaWorld Orlando
  • A temporary injunction against release of the footage was granted last week
  • Brancheau's family has sued to keep the tape from ever going public
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(CNN) -- A judge ordered mediation Thursday for all parties wanting access to videos showing the death of a SeaWorld trainer, court documents say.

Florida Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Kirkwood last week granted a temporary injunction against release of the footage, which was captured on February 24 at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. It was not immediately clear for how long the injunction would last.

Trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, was interacting with an orca named Tilikum when it grabbed her ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at Shamu Stadium. She died of multiple traumatic injuries and drowning, authorities said.

Jon Mills, the attorney for Brancheau's family, argued that their right to privacy outweighs other concerns.

"The potential harm to this family is incredibly severe," Mills said. "There is no constitutional right to voyeurism and there is a constitutional right to privacy, and the court is being asked to balance those."

Coverage from CNN affiliate WKMG

Court mediation will weigh privacy concerns against the public's right to know under Florida law. One potential agreement during mediation could allow the parties in the case to view the videos, but not have copies of them, a court document says.

Interested parties have until April 5 to request to join the mediation. No date has been set for the mediation. The Orlando Sentinel, The Tampa Tribune, The Lakeland Ledger and WFLA-TV have filed in the case.

Parts of last month's incident were captured on two cameras at the park -- one that shows a view from underwater and another from the park's Sky Tower, according to the family's complaint.

"The underwater view does not show Mrs. Brancheau until after she had entered the water. The overhead camera was not aimed at the scene until after the incident had begun," the complaint says.

"Significantly, neither camera shows what occurred in the moments prior to and including Mrs. Brancheau being pulled into the water and offer no insight into the cause of this tragic event."

Brancheau's family filed the complaint against the Orange County Sheriff Office and District Nine Medical Examiner's Office, which possess the footage.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has joined the lawsuit filed by Brancheau's family.

"This is a video of someone's death," Mills said last week. "There's nothing you can learn from the video other than what a tragic, horrible, traumatic attack it was."

An attorney for the sheriff's office has said it does not take a position about any video release, but it needs to keep copies so that its case file is complete.

 
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