Judge refuses to drop 2 claims against the Pittsburgh Zoo in lawsuit over boy's mauling death
An attorney for the parents of a young boy who died at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium said he soon will ask the zoo for documents and begin deposing zoo employees to press the family's lawsuit.
Philadelphia attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, representing Elizabeth and Jason Derkosh of Whitehall, said he wants to depose employees to “ask them questions of what they knew and when they knew it.”
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Paul F. Lutty Jr. ruled Tuesday that their lawsuit can proceed almost entirely according to the complaint the Derkoshes filed nearly three months ago.
They sued on May 23 in the case of their son, Maddox, 2, who was mauled to death when he fell into an exhibit of African painted dogs on Nov. 4. They argue the zoo was negligent and should be held responsible for the harm done by the dogs.
Attorneys for the zoo wanted Lutty to strike two legal arguments from the lawsuit.
At the request of Daniel L. Rivetti, one of three Pittsburgh-based attorneys representing the zoo, Lutty agreed to remove from the complaint photographs depicting similar exhibits from zoos around the country. Rivetti argued their inclusion would be “highly prejudicial” because the evidence has not been properly authenticated or identified.
But the judge refused Rivetti's request to remove from the 41-page lawsuit the legal concepts of punitive damage and strict liability, two prongs that would hold the zoo accountable for Maddox's death.
Mongeluzzi said he considers Lutty's decision to allow the case to proceed as a “win,” adding that he will attempt to submit the photographs later.
Maddox slipped from his mother's grasp, tumbled into the dog exhibit and was mauled. Authorities did not file criminal charges, but attorneys for the Derkoshes said the zoo “blatantly ignored” a worker's warning about safety problems with the exhibit.
The zoo removed the observation deck from which Maddox fell and replaced it with a tall fence. The zoo moved the dogs to other zoos and in June reopened the exhibit with a cheetah on display.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates say goodbye to veteran leaders Burnett, Ramirez
- NFL notebook: Cardinals to stay in W.Va. ahead of Steelers game
- Opposing TEs Miller, Gates took differing paths to greatness
- Steelers notebook: Starting DEs not leaving the field
- State woos Kennametal with $1M in incentives to stay in Pa.
- Pitt, WR Boyd look to break out against Virginia
- Feds aim to bring Chinese military leaders to Pittsburgh for trial
- Penn State to face improving Indiana team
- Gorman: WPIAL must answer with power move
- Cole working to become Penguins’ next Martin on defense
- Marshals seek parole violator who walked away from Downtown treatment center