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Premises liability: Lawsuits may follow E. coli outbreak

Many Nevada parents of young children keep a lookout for educational trips on which to take their children. However, as was proved in another state recently, some facilities could pose life-threatening risks. Facilities at which live animals are present have been identified as high-risk areas. The Centers for Disease Control published recommendations in 2001 for safe operations at venues where there may be direct contact between visitors and live animals. If disregarding of these warnings leads to personal injuries to members of the public, facility owners may face premises liability lawsuits.

After the recent death of a young child in another state, it was determined that he was infected with E. coli. Another child became severely ill, and when the same strain of the enteric pathogen E. coli was identified as the cause of his illness, common exposure for the two children was investigated. It was then found that both children had visited a petting zoo at a county fair in September.

An investigation is underway, but preliminary findings reportedly indicate that the facility has a record of multiple prior outbreaks that had caused illness in thousands of visitors to the petting zoo. Investigators will determine if health guidelines were disregarded by the owners of the petting zoo. Exhibitors carry the burden of recognizing and addressing risks, and also of being educated about the potential dangers posed to visitors at animal exhibits, open farms or petting zoos.

Nevada parents whose children have suffered serious illness -- or those whose children died -- after visiting animal exhibitions may pursue litigation for premises liability to seek recovery of documented financial losses. Bringing such a claim will require proof of the facility owner's failure to adequately address known risks or otherwise fail to observe a reasonable standard of care toward invitees. Such claims may be difficult to navigate, and many people choose to utilize the services of an experienced premises liability attorney to guide them through the legal proceedings.

Source: foodsafetynews.com, "Publisher's Platform: Another Preventable Petting Zoo E. Coli Outbreak", Bill Marler, Oct. 11, 2015

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