CUYAHOGA FALLS — A Cleveland Heights man and woman are seeking more than $25,000 in damages from the city after their 15-month-old son was injured after stepping on a hot metal plate at the city’s Water Works Family Aquatics Center last summer.
"It’s my understanding that it was a utility cover that was roped off at Water Works," said City Law Director Janet Ciotola on Tuesday.
According to Summit County Court of Common Pleas records, the personal injury complaint was filed on March 26.
Ciotola declined to comment on the litigation, saying the city had not previously known about the complaint and she was in the process of reviewing it.
According to the complaint, on or about July 1, 2019, the toddler stepped on the plate in the ground at the waterpark at 2025 Munroe Falls Avenue, resulting in "severe burns to his feet and toes."
The complaint says the temperature that day was in the high 80s, it was sunny and the city "was aware, or should have been aware, of the dangerous Metal Plate hazard" and the boy "suffered severe physical injuries, great physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, anxiety, emotional distress, and a loss of enjoyment of life. [The boy] required medical care and treatment in the past, and will continue to suffer said losses in the future."
"It just resulted in just excruciating pain for the little guy, his name is Benny," said Owen Rarric, the attorney representing the boy and his parents. "He couldn’t walk for several weeks; he had to revert to crawling."
Rarric said the boy’s mother is a nurse and she and her husband were both involved in his care.
"They would have to remove dressings from his feet each night due to the burns," said Rarric. "They just described the shaking and crying each night and this just went on and on."
The complaint further alleges that the city failed to warn the general public of the hazard.
The complaint also alleges that the boy’s parents suffered harm as well, including lost income by his mother as she cared for her son during his rehabilitation.
Rarric said he too believes the hazard was roped off, but added it was not enough of a barrier in a place that attracts families with young children. He said that state law, upheld by the courts, says facilities like Water Works have a "heightened duty" to protect children from injury.
"We’re just looking for the city to accept responsibility and we’re hopeful that with the filing of this complaint, they’ll address it now and resolve this situation," he said.
The complaint asks that the court award an amount of more than $25,000 in compensatory damages, with the total amount to be determined by the court, as well as expenses incurred because of the court case, including attorney fees.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JeffSaunders_RP