Child Drowns in Septic Tank Near Jacksonville, Florida… Who is to Blame?

On October 22, 2017, a child’s body was found in an underground septic tank at Bruce Park in Jacksonville, Florida. A day earlier, three-year-old Amari Harley went missing from a family birthday party in the park, and it’s believed that the child fell into the underground tank and drowned. Such accidental death of a child is a tragedy for the family and raises several questions regarding liability, responsibility, and blame for a child wrongful death in Florida. Negligence Involved in Amari Harley’s Death While certainly an accident, certain evidence around Amari Harley’s death indicates that it was preventable. In January of 2017, a Jacksonville resident filed a complaint with the city that the septic tank where Amari was drowned was uncovered. The City of Jacksonville took action at that time, but within a month of those repairs had to re-secure the same septic tank cover after it failed a routine inspection. In September, the septic tank and the heavy, rubber covering that enclosed the tank passed inspection, but just days before Amari’s death a man claims he nearly fell into the uncovered septic tank and planned to file a complaint. The same resident says the only covering for the underground septic tank at the time of Amari Harley’s death was made of a lightweight plastic. After these earlier complaints, the City of Jacksonville, which owns Bruce Park, appeared to take limited action and provided mediocre solutions to an ongoing problem with this underground septic tank. In the wake of Amari’s death, these solutions seem inadequate and even negligent. So, is the City of Jacksonville to blame for the child’s...

Lawsuit Filed After Wrongful Death of a Young Boy at a Rotating Restaurant

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...

The Legal Rights of a Family Member Following a Child Death at Day Care

It is every parent’s worst nightmare to receive news that a child was seriously injured or killed, and the death of any baby, toddler, or young adult is undoubtedly tragic. However, on August 17, 2017, the family of a three-year-old in Orlando received news of their son’s death by a particularly heartbreaking cause. The young child was locked inside a day care center’s van for a number of hours and during the debilitating heat of summer in central Florida. When staff located the child hours later, it was too late, and Myles Hill was pronounced dead by paramedics who responded at the scene. Sadly, Myles wasn’t the only three-year-old to die in a day care’s hot van in Florida this year. Later in August in Pensacola, a three-year-old girl was found inside a day care’s van and rushed to the hospital after hours locked in the heat. After these devastating incidents, it is common for family members to feel like helpless victims, but doesn’t have to be the response. Legal recourse after a child death at daycare is not only available but also handled by some of the top personal injury lawyers in Florida. Who Is Responsible? The first question a Florida personal injury lawyer will consider after the death of a child at day care or other third-party care provider is who was responsible for the care of the child when the death occurred. Typically, it is more than one person or entity that made commitments to care for the child in the parents’ absence, and often, these individuals and entities are the parties legally responsible for the...

Florida Workplace Deaths Continue to Rise

Florida Workplace Deaths Continue to Rise Each year the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics  collects data on the number of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. This information is sorted by state, industry, and type of injury to present a picture of workplace safety in America. For workers and employers in Florida, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ information shows a concerning rise in the number of workplace fatalities throughout the state. In 2015, Florida recorded the third highest number of workplace fatalities of any state in the country. Only California and Texas logged more fatal workplace incidents. Florida was also among the 21 states to report a higher number of fatalities in 2015 than in 2014. In fact, the number of Florida workplace deaths rose by 44 during that interval. These statistics call for a new emphasis on safety in Florida’s workplaces and the need for employers, employees, and the state government to renew their interest in protecting Florida’s workers. Worker Fatalities Across the U.S. Overall today the United States is a safer place to work than in the past. In the most recent reporting period for labor statistics, the numbers for 2015 indicate that the rate of workplace fatalities is continuing to decrease. This trend began in 2007, following a very high number of workplace fatalities nationwide in 2006. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the U.S. workplace fatality rate at 3.38 per 1,000 workers in 2015, down from 2014’s rate of 3.43 per 1,000 workers. The actual number of workplace deaths increased from 2014 to 2015, but so did the number of people in...

Widow Suffers Unfair Justice in Florida Wrongful Death Case Involving Mesothelioma

This week a Florida appellate court issued a chilling opinion preventing a widow from collecting wrongful death damages–following the death of her husband from exposure to asbestos. John Kelly had worked in construction from 1973 to 1974. He married Janis Kelly in 1976.  In 2014 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and he and his wife sued several defendants, including Georgia-Pacific and other manufacturers of asbestos, for strict liability.1 The defendants moved to dismiss the claim of Mrs. Kelly, as his surviving spouse, for wrongful death damages on the basis that they were not married at the time that Mr. Kelly would have been exposed to the asbestos. The Honorable Carol Lisa Phillips, a Broward County Florida trial court judge, agreed with the defendants and dismissed the case on the grounds that Florida common law requires that in order for a non-injured spouse to be entitled to receive compensation for the loss of consortium, services, and other damages for the injuries of the injured spouse, the couple must first be legally married. This legal concept is known as the Marriage Before Injury Rule, and in this case, at the time of the injury, the Kellys were not yet married. Mrs. Kelly and her lawyers appealed the dismissal to Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, which issued a detailed opinion affirming the trial court’s dismissal. The Appellate court reasoned that Florida’s Wrongful Death Act does not supersede Florida’s common law requirement that a spouse must be married to the decedent before the date of the decedent’s injuries to recover money for loss of consortium. In other words, the key question was...

Medical Malpractice in Florida: Supreme Court Rules in Birth Trauma Case

Forever . . . Florida’s State-run agencies, like public hospitals or the DOT, have long hidden behind the shield of the sovereign immunity statute, which limits the amount of recovery an injured person or grieving family can obtain in a civil personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The statute has also limited the fees that lawyers could charge to sue these agencies–making such cases economically impossible for many of the best trial lawyers to accept.1 The one exception is to get a claims bill passed, which is essentially a special law that permits payment for more than the statutory damage cap. Claims bills have been traditionally expensive and very difficult to get passed in all but the most catastrophic cases.2 Until now. Supreme Court Rules in Birth Trauma Case This week Florida’s Supreme Court reviewed a case that arose out of the traumatic birth injury of Aaron Edwards.3 Because of the negligence of employees at Lee Memorial Hospital, he sustained a catastrophic brain injury. He hired another Florida medical malpractice law firm to sue the hospital, under a standard contingency-fee agreement, which provided for a payment of 40 percent of any recovery if a lawsuit was filed, plus costs. The agreement also stated that “[i]n the event that one of the parties to pay my claim for damages is a governmental agency, I understand that Federal and Florida Law may limit the amount of attorney fees charged and in that event, I understand that the fees owed shall be the amount provided by law.” The case proceeded to a five-week jury trial in 2007. The jury found Lee Memorial...
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