Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Lawsuit filed by parents over son's death at Pittsburgh Zoo

On November 5, 2012, a two-year-old boy fell from an observation platform at the Pittsburgh Zoo and was mauled to death by a pack of African painted dogs. The parents have filed a civil lawsuit on the basis of claims of negligence and wrongful death. They are seeking unspecified damages in the death of their son.

The child fell from the observation platform when his mother picked him up to get a better view of the African painted dogs on exhibit at the zoo.

The toddler, who was visually impaired, jumped out of his mother's arms in his attempts to better view the animals and bounced off a special net designed to catch debris and trash from the outside of the enclosure. He landed 10 feet below where the exotic dogs were on display and was savagely mauled.

The child's mother tried to jump into the net in an attempt to rescue her son, but she was restrained by another visitor at the exhibit. A zoo employee was also killed while attempting to rescue the boy.

Administrators of the zoo have subsequently closed the exhibit out of respect and to allow the community to recover from the tragedy.

The two-year-old victim was the first visitor in the 116-year history of the Pittsburgh Zoo to die while viewing an exhibit.

According to Pennsylvania law, when someone dies from the negligence of others, the surviving family members are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit to collect damages due to a loved one's untimely death. Surviving family members may collect damages if the death was due to a wrongful act or recklessness on the part of another person or persons.

Many states, including Pennsylvania, have statutes of limitations on how long the family can wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit; however, if they believe their loved one's death was caused by negligence, it is advisable to consult with wrongful death attorneys to receive counsel regarding a lawsuit as soon as possible.

Source:  The Republic, Columbus Ohio, "Parents sue Pittsburgh Zoo in mauling death of 2-year-old boy who fell into wild dog exhibitar" Joe Mandax, May. 23, 2013

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