The tragic death of a child can leave parents feeling helpless with grief or, alternatively, incredibly angry. Often, legal action provides a means to direct these intense emotions into effective action. Every wrongful death attorney understands that these claims do not come close to filling the void left by a loved one, but they do provide a means for surviving parents to become more than victims. Such is the case for the family of five-year-old Charlie Holt, who died in a rotating restaurant in Atlanta.
What Happened to Charlie Holt?
On April 14, 2017, Charlie and his parents, Rebecca and Michael were dining at the Westin Plaza’s rotating restaurant. The family was on vacation from Charlotte, North Carolina, and were enjoying a dinner out at the Sun Dial restaurant when catastrophe struck.
According to the police report of the incident, Charlie wandered away from his parents during dinner. Unsupervised, Charlie somehow trapped his head between two tables, where it was crushed as the interior of the restaurant rotated.
The family disagrees with the facts of this report, and in their recent lawsuit claim that throughout the meal the family utilized a walkway between tables to go to and from the bathroom. On the tragic occasion that Charlie was trapped, there was stationary wall too close to one of the moving booths. Charlie was unable to see the wall from his lower vantage point and was unable to escape the approaching wall before his skull was crushed between the two.
Following these events, the Westin shut down the Sun Dial restaurant for an extensive period of time, but it was reopened back in June. By mid-November, the Holt’s were prepared to take legal action for their son’s death and a wrongful death suit was filed in Georgia.
Is Legal Action Available to Surviving Parents?
In Georgia, Florida, and other states the parents of a deceased child have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. But as in other personal injury or wrongful death claims, a lawsuit following the death of a minor child still requires evidence of negligence and that such negligence was the cause of death.
In a case, such as Charlie Holt’s the liability might appear obvious, but the parents still have an upward battle against Marriot International, the parent company of the Westin. The family’s legal team will still need to show that the design was negligent or dangerous and the parents’ own negligence wasn’t the underlying cause of the accident. These factual burdens on the parents are in addition to evidence on the damages demanded in their lawsuit.
What Does Legal Recourse Offer the Family?
Families that suffer the loss of a young child seek different comfort and recourse from a wrongful death suit on behalf of their son or daughter. For some families, a lawsuit is the only form of retribution from a negligent or reckless party. Although an inadequate replacement for the life of their child, compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and expenses ensure some accountability.
Other families are seeking closure. Through a lawsuit, a family is able to take action, instead of simply being victims of someone else’s negligence or omission. Plus, the action of a wrongful death claim has a conclusive and definitive end, which can provide some closure to other aspects of the loss. Still, others view legal recourse as a way to ensure other parents don’t encounter the same negligence or actions by an irresponsible party. By placing a financial burden on the negligent actor, the parents are able to better incentivize change and better conduct.
For the parents’ of Charlie Holt, it’s important to hold Marriot International responsible for all of these reasons. However, in a statement from their attorney, the parents specifically state that they want to be certain the circumstances of their son’s death are clear and they never want other parents to suffer the same loss.