Family is Awarded $21 Million Plus After Toddler Drowns in Septic Tank
The tragic case of a toddler who drowned in a septic tank of a new duplex apartment highlights the responsibilities on property owners to make sure their premises are safe.
Trial magazine reported on the case of a 3-year-old who was playing in a backyard when he stepped onto the lid of a septic tank.
It wasn’t securely fastened and was chipped, leading the child to fall into an 8-foot-deep septic tank. He drowned in the sewage.
In a case brought in Bristol, Massachusetts, the boy’s parents sued the property owner in a wrongful death case, alleging the septic system’s broken and unsecured lid was a hazard.
The plaintiffs also sued the manufacturer of the cover, claiming it was too small and had a design fault. The plaintiffs also sued the companies responsible for the installation, inspection and pumping of the septic system and the home inspection company that inspected the duplex.
The child’s parents claimed for emotional distress for having witnessed the drowning and its aftermath, Trial reported.
The plaintiffs reached a settlement with all of the defendants except the home inspection company before the trial for about $5 million.
At a bench trial, the court made an award of $21.05 million, including $10 million to each parent, $1 million for the child’s pain and suffering before death and $50,000 in punitive damages.
The attorneys for the plaintiff were Michael R. Rezendes and Cathryn Crowley of Quincy, Massachusetts.
Deaths of children in septic tanks are not as uncommon as we might thing. Recently, a three-year-old died in a septic tank in Minnesota. Landowners and property owners should be aware of features on their properties that can be a hazard to children, even when they are trespassing. Swimming pools are one of the most serious hazards to toddlers. They should be fenced with locked gates to prevent children falling in and drowning.
Any wrongful death case is harrowing but the circumstances of this case make it particularly upsetting and my thoughts are with the family of the dead toddler. If you have lost a loved one you should contact an experienced Virginia Beach wrongful death lawyer. Cooper Hurley has a main office in Norfolk, Virginia, and client meeting locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Please call us for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.