Yesterday, a judge dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against the managers of the Staples Center over the death of a 34-month-old boy. The boy was fatally injured after he climbed up and over a 10-cm high barrier of tempered glass and fell from a luxury suite.
The parents alleged that the presence of a ledge just under the plexiglass barrier, referred to in the lawsuit as a beverage bench. The parents claim that because this bench is used by people in many ways, including as a table and even as a seat or to stand on, it was not unreasonable that they might allow their son to sit on the ledge, from which he climbed over the plexiglass barrier and fell to his death while his mother was taking pictures of him. They claim further that the absence of warning signs made it seem like a safe place for the boy to sit.
However, the judge dismissed the case, saying that Staples Center did not owe a duty to the parents to properly supervise the child and prevent him from falling. Furthermore, the judge said “it was not foreseeable” by Staples Center that the parents would place their child in such an “openly and obviously dangerous situation” by placing him on the beverage bench.
The judge is affirming here some basic factors that have to be considered when pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. First, negligence is defined as a breach of duty, which may be explicitly defined or implicit. In this case, the judge decided that although Staples Center had a duty to provide a basically safe property for its visitors, it did not have a special duty to care for children, who are admitted only under condition of supervision by an adult, who is charged with the duty to care.
Second, a person or entity can only be found negligent with respect to “foreseeable” events. People are not held responsible for “freak occurrences” or otherwise unpredictable situations. In this case, as in many cases, the unforeseeable event was negligence on the part of the plaintiffs.
If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to consider many factors that may contribute to the success or failure of the lawsuit before pursuing it.
For a free case evaluation, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA in Columbus, Ohio, and tell our wrongful death lawyers about your situation.