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Father of child killed by snake gets settlement

Wrongful death suits do not only deal with problems related to motor vehicle. Despite common perception, it is possible that other kinds of injury can qualify, including construction accidents and other work-related deaths. Also in this category are accidents that are caused by animals, such as pets. Exotic pets are relatively common throughout the United States, with pet shops offering access to a variety of reptiles and snakes. Individual buyers in Florida can even purchase pythons and other constrictor breeds, many of which can be more dangerous than initially thought. Now, the father of a child who was killed in Sumter County by a python has received a settlement in connection with the 2009 wrongful death.

The man, who lived outside of Florida at the time of the incident, recovered financial damages from the Department of Children & Families, which he said should have protected his daughter from the snake. Inspectors from the department failed to alert wildlife officials to the dangers associated with having a Burmese python in the same home as a 2-year-old child. The child died in May 2009 when the snake escaped from its cage and attacked the little girl.

Authorities report the snake was not properly contained in the home. Instead of being kept in a locked cage, it was restrained inside an aquarium with a laundry bag and sheet. Government investigators who had visited the home just weeks before the incident reportedly noticed the snake but did not make proper notifications to protect the child from harm. The girl's father argued that the department should have removed the child from the home because of the snake.

In addition, the mother's boyfriend, who owned the snake, was sentenced to a 12-year prison term for his role in the child's death. The mother is also serving a 12-year stint in a penitentiary.

Child and family service workers have a responsibility to keep kids safe. They are mandated to identify dangers in the home, even if those dangers do not come directly from humans. In this case, the girl's guardians made a bad decision, and they were punished, along with those at the department that should have held them accountable.

Source: articles.orlandosentinel.com, "Dad of toddler victimized by killer python settles wrongful-death lawsuit" Ludmilla Lelis, Sep. 24, 2013

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