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Pittsburgh Zoo Alleges That Death of 2-Year-Old Was His Mother's Fault

A Pittsburgh Zoo and their attorneys are blaming the mother of a 2 year old child for the fatal mauling of her son by a pack of wild African dogs after the child fell into the zoo's exhibit in November, 2012.

The zoo claims that the toddler's death was caused solely by the carelessness of the child's mother who negligently placed her son in a dangerous position to view the animals. The zoo also claims that, because of this, a lawsuit should not be justified.

The mother did admit to holder her son up to get a better view of the wild dogs on November 4th. According to the mother's account, after she held her son up, her son leaned forward and fell out of her arms through an unprotected opening and into the dog den. This is the account that appears in the family's complaint filed in May.

The toddler's parents are seeking damages against the park (in an unspecified amount) because they claim that the zoo was negligent in ignoring warning signs from a concerned employee. This employee, interviewed on November 28, 2012, said that he would frequently see mothers place their children up on the observation deck to get a better view, which made him nervous, since the railing was not adequately protected in his estimation.

The zoo pointed to a government study by the USDA where they conducted 35 inspections at the painted dog exhibit since its opening in 2006. According to a zoo spokesman at no time had any concerns or violations regarding this exhibit been identified by the regulatory agency.

This case will center on the legal issue of "notice." If the exhibit of the painted dogs had received complaints of an unsafe habitat for guests of the zoo or if prior incidents had occurred similar to this grizzly occurrence, the zoo may be held liable. If the zoo knew the layout and security precautions of the exhibit were insufficient to protect guests of the zoo, a jury could find for the plaintiffs.

The other possible theory for the plaintiffs if the zoo had no prior complaints/no prior occurrences would be that the design of the exhibit was dangerous and negligent and that the accident would not have occurred but for the faulty design of the exhibit.


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