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Store may be liable in Fisherman’s Wharf accident that killed boy

Fisherman’s Wharf is among the most iconic areas of San Francisco and a must-visit tourist destination. For this and many other reasons, businesses that operate in the area need to make safety a top priority. Tourists should never have to worry that they will be seriously injured during their visit.

By now, most Bay Area residents have heard about the tragic accident that occurred in Fisherman’s Wharf and claimed the life of a 2-year-old boy while his family was visiting from Utah. The boy climbed onto a dolphin statue that then toppled onto him. The statue was a piece of merchandise placed outside of a store in such a way that it violated local safety codes.

Police say that the store known as Majestic Gallery has previously been warned that it could not place its merchandise outside of a designated area because it would impede pedestrian traffic. The store has since been cited.

Other business owners in the area have questioned whether the accident would have happened if the boy’s parents had been keeping closer watch. They argue that the same accident could have occurred even if the merchandise had been inside the store.

But is this a reasonable comparison? Parents are usually very attentive to how their children behave inside of stores because they don’t want their kids to accidentally break merchandise. When a statue is placed outside, however, parents may not know that it is a piece of merchandise. If the boy’s parents had thought it was a public statue, they may have also assumed that it was securely fastened to the ground.

Depending on the details of the incident, the store could face legal liability for the toddler’s death. The boy’s parents may decide to pursue a lawsuit for premises liability or wrongful death.

No matter what happens, however, this incident should serve as an important cautionary tale for all businesses in Fisherman’s Wharf. This tragic death was preventable, and it should never be allowed to happen again.

Source: CBS San Francisco, “Support Grows For Utah Toddler Killed After Climbing Fisherman’s Wharf Dolphin Statue,” June 11, 2014

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