Choking incident in Pennsylvania results in lawsuit

There is no disputing that accidents happen and that these accidents can sometimes end in tragedy. The response to an accident often changes and the incident comes under added scrutiny when a child is involved. The extra attentiveness is especially present in situations involving a wrongful death situation.

One Pennsylvania mother is looking into what exactly caused the death of her daughter. The mother, from Mercer County, claims that her young daughter died two days after a choking incident in the school cafeteria last year. Her daughter had apparently been served a hot dog.

Now, the mother has decided to pursue litigation against the company that supplied food to the school. In her lawsuit against the company, the mother asserts claims for wrongful death, negligence and vicarious liability. She argues that the company was aware that over 10,000 young children have choked on hot dogs in recent years and that this knowledge should have stopped the company from supplying hot dogs.

Vicarious liability is a claim that often accompanies a suit arising from an apparent wrongful death. Vicarious liability is a method by which to hold someone responsible for the death of another. Pennsylvania law applies vicarious liability in a situation in which someone is held responsible for the acts of another based on constructive or imputed fault.

In certain wrongful death cases, the family of a victim may argue that the negligence of one person or entity flows from negligence arising from another person or entity. The mother's vicarious liability claim may argue that although the school served the food, the company should ultimately be responsible for the death because it decided to provide the hot dogs.

Vicarious liability can be confusing; however, it can ultimately strengthen a case for wrongful death.

Source:, "Lawsuit filed over Mercer child who died after choking," Breen Mitchell, Dec. 28, 2013

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