Child escapes through pet door, drowns in pool

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Case in Point

April 12, 2011

Child escapes through pet door, drowns in pool 

The parents of the two-year-old boy who crawled through the pet door sued the manufacturer, alleging that the door was defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it lacked warnings about unintended use by children. The plaintiffs had uncovered evidence that the company knew of prior fatal incidents involving kids. The parties settled before trial for a confidential amount. Ranfone v. Radio Sys. Corp.

Two-year-old Matthew Ranfone was at home with his family when he crawled, unseen, to a locked sliding glass door in the living room and exited through a PetSafe Deluxe Pet Door Panel in the door. Minutes later, he was found unresponsive in the pool. He was airlifted to a hospital and placed on life support, but he never regained brain function and was removed from life support 13 days later. He is survived by his parents and sister. His medical bills totaled about $85,000.

Ranfone’s parents, on behalf of his estate, sued the company that manufactured the pet door, alleging it was defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it lacked warnings about unintended use by children. The plaintiffs were prepared to show that the manufacturer was aware of prior fatal incidents involving children who had exited through its pet doors and that the company had included a warning regarding child egress on other model doors it manufactured.

The defendant argued, among other things, that Ranfone’s parents were comparatively negligent for failing to supervise him properly.

The parties settled before trial for a confidential amount. The health insurer asserted a lien of about $15,000.

Citation: Ranfone v. Radio Sys. Corp., No. CA 2008 1672 (Fla., Hernando Co. Cir. Dec. 24, 2010).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Henry N. Didier Jr. and P. Alexander Gillen, both of Orlando, Florida.


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