Comments on: “Family sues Bronx Zoo after child swallows souvenir penny” Chronicling the high cost of our legal system Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:15:53 +0000 hourly 1 By: Turk Thu, 06 Feb 2014 16:33:05 +0000 No the original coin was not sharp.

True. But I think we all agree that the kid wasn’t given an original coin, but one that had been run through a pressing machine.

What appears to be sharp is the remains of the coin after it was partially dissolved by stomach acid.

If it was partially dissolved, it likely wouldn’t be sharp. Kids swallow coins all the time and poop them out without problem, which is what the first doctor assumed would happen, right?

To the extent anyone would raise the issue of stomach acid doing this to a coin, I think we can agree that — unless you have some specialized knowledge that I am unaware of — this would be a matter for an expert to opine on. I’d probably check with a gastronenterologist or a metallurgist.

Do you really thing that the zoo would give out a jagged piece of metal to an adult, let along a 3 year old?

So then you agree that, if that is what happened, the zoo was negligent?

By: Richard Nieporent Thu, 06 Feb 2014 02:51:07 +0000 @Turk

No the original coin was not sharp. What appears to be sharp is the remains of the coin after it was partially dissolved by stomach acid. Use some common sense. Do you really thing that the zoo would give out a jagged piece of metal to an adult, let along a 3 year old?

By: Turk Wed, 05 Feb 2014 22:18:20 +0000 You can criticize the mother’s comments about warnings all you want, but any way you slice it, that is one very sharp object.

If it was handed directly to a 3-year-old, then it was negligent to do so. I don’t really see how you can excuse the zoo for doing it, if that is what occurred.

Is it possible that others are comparatively negligent? Maybe. All we have are a couple of newspaper articles, and I think we are all smart enough to know that we can only hope to get the gist of a story from them. That’s why we have juries, to (hopefully) sort out what actually happened.

By: John Fembup Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:25:13 +0000 “Ethan’s mother, Kelly Yi, said there was no warning about the dangers of swallowing the coins.”

Eeek! No warning?

Then why did the child’s parents not also swallow the coins given to them? Because – I suppose – both parents know full well not to swallow coins. So I wonder, why no warning from the parents?

Maybe because these parents were not watching their 3-year-old? Maybe these parents were somehow unaware that 3-year-olds try to put almost everything into their mouths? But they knew swallowing a coin is a bad idea, so why did they not intercept the “free” gift? Because no parent can be expected to resist their child’s plea “I want it”??

And what about the physician at the hospital who “said it would come out a few days later.” Is the Zoo responsible for that advice too?

Curiouser and curiouser.

This is clearly a terrible outcome – but kids swallow things all the time without such bad outcomes. Does it make sense that the zoo is solely responsible for this one? What about the parents who – based on the reports – demonstrated no cents at all?

By: Bumper Wed, 05 Feb 2014 19:59:53 +0000 Hold the presses, metaphorically speaking of course, read both articles linked to the story.

Supposedly a zoo employee gave the coin directly to the child, still reported to be in a plastic wrap on a card. No mention of how it became unwrapped. Mom notices the child gagging and a quick family survey reveals that the family of four can only account for three coins. Rush child to medical clinic where the attending says no problem it will come out the other end in a couple of days. WRONG.

So while the zoo may have some problems, the initial physician normally would be in a world of hurt, malpractice wise. But there is no mention of this, so what gives, and where’s Paul Harvey when you really want the rest of the story.

By: gitarcarver Wed, 05 Feb 2014 19:45:38 +0000 There is more information including an image of the coin and the laparoscopic images from the child here:

The penny appears to be one that seen in a lot of amusement parks. You put a penny in a slot and a huge set or rollers press the penny into a flat slug and impress an image on it.

The article states: “The jagged edge scraped and cut the inside of Ethan’s stomach, and the ordeal cost the uninsured family — the mom is a fabric designer and the dad a skin-care supplies salesman — more than $50,000 in medical bills, [family lawyer Howard] Myerowitz said.”

There are some interesting quotes in the article including a quote from the mother who said:

“There’s a warning sign for everything. Even the hot coffee has a warning sign,” she said.”

This is now officially known as the “Stella Liebeck Trickle Down Effect.”

By: Allan Wed, 05 Feb 2014 19:03:15 +0000 Marni’s comment was not posted when I wrote mine.

I do have to question how the penny got disengaged from the postcard. (Perhaps the kid swallowed the plastic, too). I certainly think it plausible that a three-year old would be able to get the penny out. It likely would be as simple as opening candy.

If the parents did unwrap the coin and give it to the child, there is a problem for the lawsuit.

On the flip side. If the child did everything on its own, would the parents (who could assume a zoo employee would not give a dangerous object to a child) be responsible? Or would the zoo?

Perhaps you think that the zoo is in a “heads I win, tails you lose” situation.

By: Robert Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:26:45 +0000 I have an idea that will make everyone happy!

Let’s remove “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the penny and replace it with “CAUTION! DO NOT SWALLOW”

By: wfjag Wed, 05 Feb 2014 16:33:21 +0000 “Clearly, giving a small object to a 3 year old child is problematic. ”

Allan, did you read Marni’s comment (right above yours) that “the NY Post article, it says that the penny was secured to a postcard by plastic wrapping” ? So, it is questionable that the zoo employee gave a “small object” to the child. Rather, someone (quite likely the parents) removed the penny from the plastic wrapping and gave it to the child, or they let the child do that and retain the penny.

Perhaps this is one of those cases in which the best defense is a good offense, e.g. “That original plaintiffs/ defendants in counter-claim, are liable to original defendant/ plaintiff in counter-claim for failing to affix a warning to said child of his unreasonable propensity to obtain and swallow small objects, including pennies, causing great emotional harm and distress to original defendant/ plaintiff in counter-claim.” (OK, that’s snarky. But, pleadings are not infrequently unintentionally humorous, so why not some intentional sarcasm? More polite than referring to “Plaintiffs (hereinafter referred to herein as ‘idiots in possession of the small child’).”)

By: Richard Nieporent Wed, 05 Feb 2014 15:43:20 +0000 @Allen

Why should the family have to foot the bill?

I believe you answered that question in your next sentence.

Clearly, giving a small object to a 3 year old child is problematic.

If you don’t like the solution (litigation), tell me a better plan.

Simple, the person(s) who were responsible should foot the bill. That would be the parents.

Sure, the parents could have had insurance.

This is just more irresponsibility on the part of the parents.

But, then again, so could the zoo.

I am sure the zoo has liability insurance. However, this begs the question. Somebody else shouldn’t have to pay for your stupidity. If the kid picked up a penny on the street and swallowed it, should the Treasury Department be held responsible? After all there is no warning on a penny.