SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A toddler was crushed to death by a 100-lb. dolphin statue that an art gallery's owners knew was "dangerously unbalanced and top-heavy," the boy's family claims in court.
The 5-foot-tall depiction of dolphins leaping into the air was especially enticing to small children, and the gallery had placed it on a crowded sidewalk in violation of city codes, the family claims in Superior Court.
The Shelton family sued the Majestic Collection Fine Art Gallerie aka Z Collection, on Dec. 23.
The Sheltons were vacationing in San Francisco in June. The parents and their three children were on the Jefferson Street sidewalk, passing the Majestic, when 2-year-8-month-old Kayson "was foreseeably attracted to the Dolphin Statue and made brief physical contact with it, at which point the Dolphin Statue immediately toppled over onto him," the complaint states.
The family "saw the fallen statue upon Kayson's body. They heard him crying out in pain. They saw blood running on his face," the family says.
They took him from under the statue but he was soon unconscious in his mother's arms.
"The family watched in shock as emergency responders worked in a furious and ultimately unsuccessful effort to save Kayson's life as he lay on the sidewalk," according to the lawsuit.
He died a few hours later at a hospital, of blood loss.
"The last words Kayson spoke before he died were, 'I love you,'" the family says.
They claim that the gallery did not warn about "the real danger of the Dolphin Statue toppling over as it did when it killed Kayson Shelton."
"Defendants capitalize on, and profit greatly from, the tourist traffic on Jefferson Street by, among other things, displaying on the public sidewalk items of merchandise that are large, brightly colored, and particularly attractive to young children and their families," the complaint states.
It claims that by putting their wares out in front of their shop, "defendants assume and exercise actual possession and control over the public sidewalk and essentially treat it as an extension of the retail showroom of Majestic."
The family claims that even with a permit for sidewalk displays, city code limits the height of merchandise to 4 feet.
The City and County of San Francisco painted a conspicuous blue line down the length of the Jefferson Street sidewalk, the family says. The line passes directly in front of the Majestic, which had been repeatedly warned by the police and the merchants' association not to display products beyond the line, according to the complaint.
The Sheltons seek compensatory and exemplary damages for wrongful death, negligent infliction of emotional distress, public nuisance, survival and intentional tort.
Also named as defendants are Collection Inc., Mayfair Enterprises Inc., Zemach Holdings LLC and Venystate Inc.,
The family is represented by Fletcher Alford with Gordon & Rees.
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