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Q: Cases of government liability in shark attacks ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Cases of government liability in shark attacks
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: nikki1118-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 18 Apr 2003 14:47 PDT
Expires: 18 May 2003 14:47 PDT
Question ID: 192413
Legal cases of government liability for shark attacks.  Need past case
names and decissions.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 18 Apr 2003 18:03 PDT
Can you tell us a bit more about what you need?  

What jurisdiction is of interest (e.g. the United States, a particular
state or city, some other country, anywhere in the world?).

How many cases would you consider to be an adequate answer?

Any additional details would be helpful.

Clarification of Question by nikki1118-ga on 19 Apr 2003 12:42 PDT
I am looking for legal cases which clarify if the government is or is
not liable in any USA area if they knowingly allow a beach area to
stay open when they are aware of shark activity and swimmers, etc are
not warned and are allowed to use this area. Any cases that involve a
known public endangerment may also be helpful but in this case the
shark threat is not definite-only a strong possibility.  If you can
find any cases of law suits or decisions. Can you sue the police or
any govenment agency for not warning the public?? Need legal reference
cases.  Thanks

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 19 Apr 2003 15:19 PDT
Hello nikki1118-ga, and thanks for your clarification.

I've found suprisingly few cases related to your topic -- only one, in
fact.  A case in Florida absolved the city government of liability for
a shark attack when they had no prior knowledge of dangerous

Another case held a private firm liable for the suffering of a ship's
crew when they had to abandon a sinking ship and face shark-infested

That's it!  However, I did also find some other possibly relevant
materials, including:

--an article on Insurance company liabilities for shark attacks

--an article on government immunity/liabaility for animal attacks in

--a transcript of a TV news show assessing the liability of hotels and
resorts for shark attacks.

Please understand that I cannot provide the full text of these
articles (due to copyright restrictions) but I can certainly provide
references to them if that is of interest.

Let me know if you would like me to post any or all of this
information as an answer to your question.


Clarification of Question by nikki1118-ga on 19 Apr 2003 15:26 PDT
I need the References to the infomation that you found.  Did you find
any legal documents or court cases?  If so list what you have found
and where I can find it.  Thank you very much
Subject: Re: Cases of government liability in shark attacks
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 19 Apr 2003 16:16 PDT
Hello again Nikki1118-ga, and thank you for your question and for your
prompt clarifications.

Here is the information I mentioned earlier -- references to cases and
articles that pertain to your topic.  Most of the information I've
listed is available through the Lexis-Nexis information service; at
the end of the list, I am providing instructions for accessing these
materials through the Lexis-Nexis website.  It may also be possible to
get some or all of this material through your local library...check
with a librarian to find out.

If anything here is not clear, or requires additional explanation,
just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be glad to assist you


Wamser v. St. Petersburg,  No. 75-1345,  Court of Appeals of Florida,
Second District,  October 27, 1976,  Rehearing Denied December 9,
OVERVIEW: City, as possessor of land, had no duty to anticipate the
presence of or guard injured swimmer, an invitee, against harm from
sharks that the city did not harbor where the city had no knowledge of
prior shark attacks.


Petition of Moore--McCormack Lines, Inc.,  UNITED STATES DISTRICT
OVERVIEW: The dollar amount of damages awarded to survivors and
representatives of deceased crewmembers for personal injuries and
death resulting from the sinking of their ship included compensation
for conscious pain and suffering endured in the water.




CNN,  CNN BURDEN OF PROOF 12:30,  August 20, 2001 Monday,  Transcript
# 082000CN.V12,  Assessing Blame in Rashidi Wheeler's Death; Are
Resorts Liable for Shark Attacks?,  Johnnie Cochran, Victor Schwartz,
Samuel Gruber,  Roger Cossack


Parks & Recreation,  March 1, 1999,  No. 3, Vol. 34; Pg. 48; ISSN:
0031-2215,  When Animals Attack: Governmental Immunity and Liability.,
 Kozlowski, James C.


Parks & Recreation,  February 1, 2003,  No. 2, Vol. 38; Pg. 42; ISSN:
0031-2215,  1699 words,  Effective aquatic risk management: seven
steps to lowering your liability.,  Fletemeyer, John; Temme, Karen


Flamboyant lawyer Harry Lipsig, known as `King of Torts,' dies at 93 
Date: 08-13-1995; Publication: Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Personal injury lawyer Harry Lipsig, who gained fame and riches by
showing, among other things, that a man had been frightened to death
by a car and that a hotel was to blame for a shark attack, has died at
age 93.  ...

Lipsig once proved that an Acapulco hotel was to blame when a shark
attacked a guest because the hotel had dumped garbage into the ocean
and failed to warn guests that it might attract sharks.


All material except the last (Harry Lipsig article) are available from
Lexis-Nexis.  Here are the instructions for accessing materials:

Go to:  
Not a Subscriber  
Search Now Using Your  
Credit Card  
[note there is no charge to conduct a search, but you do have to enter
credit card info to establish an account] 
Fill in the form to establish an account.   
After your account is established, you will have the option to select
different sources for information.

For legal cases, select "Litigation Law" down near the bottom of the
page (under the category "Area of Law").

On the next screen, select "Litigation Cases".

On the nxt screen, select "Terms and Connectors" and enter this phrase
in the "Terms" box:

shark w/2 attack! and (lawsuit or suit or sued)

Under "Court" select "All Federal and State"

Click on "Search".

The Wamser v. St. Petersburg case will be included in the search
results (the other cases included do not appear to be relevant). 
Click on the name of the case (Wamser v. St. Petersburg) in order to
access the full summary of the case -- you will be charged $9.00 for
each case you retrieve in this way.


To retreive the other case, click on "Search" again, and at the top of
the results page, click on "Federal Legal -- US" (under Legal

Then click on "Federal Cases".

Enter the same search term as before [shark w/2 attack! and (lawsuit
or suit or sued)].

Select "All Federal Cases" on the "Select Circuit/District" pull down

Click on "Search".

The results will include the case, Petition of Moore--McCormack Lines,
Inc, which can be retreived as before.


To retrieve articles:

Click on "Search" 

Select "News" to get to the search
Select "General News" 
In the "Subject" box, type: 
shark w/2 attack! and (lawsuit or suit or sued) and liabil!

[NOTE that the search terms are slightly different than before]
In the "Source" box, select "News -- All Years" 
The "Dates" box should read "All available dates". 
Click "search" 
LexisNexis will return a number of newspaper articles containing your
search terms, including those that I identified in my answer. 

Click the check box for any article that you want to see in full.
Click "Next Page" to see additional articles. 
When you've selected all the articles of interest, click "order Tagged
Documents".  LexisNexis will ask you once or twice to confirm your
order, and after confirmation, will give you full text of the selected
articles, at a cost of $3.00 per article.
If you run into any problems using LexisNexis, or need any additional
information, just let me know through a follow-up Clarification
Request, and I'll be happy to be of service.
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