The family of a young girl filed a wrongful death claim that resulted in a $1 million settlement after their daughter died choking on a hot dog at her school. The case was an extremely emotion-filled experience for the plaintiff party because the facts revealed that the death was entirely preventable and due to the gross negligence of supervisors in the school cafeteria.
The young girl, on whose behalf the case was filed, was served a hot dog at her school cafeteria during the lunch period. A portion of the hot dog lodged in her throat, hindering her ability to speak or breathe. She then displayed the Universal Choke Sign but no one, including the number of teachers and supervisors in the cafeteria, came to her aid. The Universal Choke Sign, which is when an individual clutches his or her throat with one or both hands, has been universally recognized as a human indicator for choking symptoms. This is a reflex that is neither taught nor learned, but inherent in human nature regardless of age.
Teachers in schools are particularly expected to notice and respond to the Universal Choke Sign. The fact that no one came to the little girl’s aid was made even more atrocious when it was revealed that one of the teachers present was certifiably trained to perform the Heimlich maneuver, an emergency technique for preventing suffocation.
An expert witness testimony based on the coroner’s report was significantly influential in the verdict. The expert opined that his review of the report revealed that the piece of hot dog which caused the suffocation was at a size and location that could have been easily dislodged. If someone had responded to the little girl’s struggle, her death could have been easily prevented. The negligence and ignorance of the supervisors on the scene gave the jury cause to decide in favor of the plaintiff, giving the representatives of the young girl an award of $1 million for wrongful death.