Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The next time you are tempted to pet the sting rays up at Ripley's Aquarium or elsewhere, consider the risks: "The parents of a child who developed a bacterial infection after petting stingrays at the Tennessee Aquarium has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $2.4 million."

As a Knoxville accident lawyer, I see the potential validity of the case. As to the amount claimed in the lawsuit, let's take a look at the Complaint to see exactly how bad the kid's injuries were: (1) diagnosis -- fish-handler's disease,a sssociated with his contact with the sting rays; (2) multiple surgeries and procedures, including several rounds of nail plate avulsion and tendon sheath incision of his right hand for debridement of suppurative tenosynovitis; (3) the kid's finger continued to swell, his nail bed turned dark blue, the skin on his right index finger turned necrotic, and he endured excruciating pain throughout his right hand, having to be put under anesthesia just to change the bandages; (4) the kid still continues to suffer from pain and loss of mobility in his right index finger and right hand and has undergone extensive therapy in an attempt to return his right index finger and right hand to normal use and function.

I'm a scuba diver, and have touched sting rays numerous times while underwater. I would think it's pretty uncommon for such an infection to occur. So the issue in this case is not whether the sting ray contact caused the injury; I see it more as whether it was foreseeable that such passing patron contact would lead to such an injury. More generally, was the Tennessee Aquarium negligent to allow patrons to touch the sting rays? Those are tough questions.

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