Massachusetts Parents File Wrongful Death Action Following Daughter’s Choking at Party

The parents of a Somerset, Massachusetts girl who choked on a marshmallow at a party have filed suit against the host family for wrongful death. The lawsuit was filed on July 11 and seeks undetermined pecuniary damages. The complaint alleges that their daughter would still be alive if not for the hosts’ negligence.Azriel Estabrooks died at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in April. The girl was taken to the Providence, Rhode Island hospital for specialized treatment after being found unconscious at a friend’s birthday party. She was hospitalized for seven days before she passed away. Ariel was 11.

Jason and Iris Estabrooks, the girl’s parents, set up a fundraising website to help pay for their daughter’s medical and funeral expenses. They raised $22,465.

Iris Estabrooks, Azriel’s mother, said that she received a call about an hour after dropping off her daughter at the house of Raymond and Alison Dugan in Somerset. The Dugans were throwing a party for their daughter. While Iris typically stayed at birthday parties with Azriel, the Dugans assured Iris that her daughter would be fine and that Iris could leave and come back later to pick Azriel up.

On the phone, the Dugans told Iris she needed to hurry because something was happening to Azriel. Allegedly, no one initially realized Azriel was choking, and the girl was passed out for “an extended period of time” before the hosts noticed her on the floor. When the paramedics came, they found a marshmallow stuck in the girl’s throat. They rushed Azriel to Charlton Memorial Hospital, where she was briefly treated before being transferred to Hasbro Children’s Hospital for specialized care.

Iris told reporters in April that she was furious it took so long for the hosts to notice that her daughter needed medical care. When Iris spoke to reporters in April, Azriel was still alive in the hospital. “My daughter is fighting for her life,” she said, “and [the Dugans] have not even cared to call.” The Dugans’ lawyer has declined to comment on the case.

The Estabrooks’ complaint alleges that the Dugans did not provide adequate supervision for the children who attended the party. Moreover, it alleges that the children were provided foods that were choking hazards. In addition to wrongful death, the complaint also alleges conscious pain and suffering, as well as negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Estabrooks’ attorney has said that there are many remaining questions regarding the specifics of Azriel’s death. “When a healthy, normal child goes to a birthday party and ends up choking to death,” he said in a statement, “questions of supervision naturally arise.” A major purpose of the lawsuit, the attorney indicated, is to figure out what happened and why.

According to her obituary, Azriel was a “very creative young girl” who enjoyed art, working in the garden with her parents, and telling stories. She was survived by her parents and her four siblings.

If you or a loved one has been injured by another party’s assault, you may face significant medical bills and time off work, and you may need the assistance of an assault or wrongful death lawyer to seek compensation. At the Neumann Law Group, our personal injury attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to accident victims all over the state of Massachusetts. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.

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