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Family sues over images of SeaWorld death

Sept. 9, 2011 at 1:32 PM

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The family of a SeaWorld Orlando (Fla.) trainer who was killed by a whale filed a lawsuit that seeks to ensure images of the woman's death won't be released.

The husband, mother, brother and sister of Dawn Brancheau, who died Feb. 24, 2010, at SeaWorld, say they want a court to block the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration from publicly releasing copies of any videos or photos that depict the tragedy, the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday.

Brancheau died after she was pulled underwater by Tilikum, the largest and most dangerous orca whale at SeaWorld Orlando.

The video and photographic materials in question include underwater surveillance video from a camera operated by SeaWorld and photographs taken by Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators.

The lawsuit also asks that none of the footage be displayed during an upcoming hearing in which SeaWorld is challenging the findings of OSHA's investigation into Brancheau's death. The hearing is set to begin Sept. 19.

The lawsuit says the family members have a "deeply personal and intimate privacy interest" in the materials depicting the woman's death and that displaying them serves no public interest.

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