St. Bernard Parish sued by parents of deceased teenager over contaminated water supply

By Michelle Keahey | Dec 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - The parents of a deceased teenager have filed a lawsuit claiming their son died as a result of contaminated water.

Drake Edward Smith, Sr. and April Rene Smith, individually and on behalf of their minor child, filed suit against St. Bernard Parish Government on Nov. 3 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the lawsuit, the boy allegedly came into contacted with treated water from the Parish’s water system in July which contained naegleria fowleri, a single cell organism that enters the body through the nasal passage. It entered his nasal passage and traveled to his brain causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Despite medical care, the teenager died on Aug. 1, 2013 at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans, the suit claims.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants should have known that its water system contained naegleria fowleri as one other individual died as a result of contracting PAM.

The defendant is accused of failing to take prudent and reasonable measures, including properly and adequately chlorinating the water to prevent naegleria fowleri from living in the water, inspecting the water for dangerous organisms, monitoring the water for dangerous organisms, and warning the public concerning the presence of naegleria fowleri in the water supply.

The lawsuit is seeking an award of damages for physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering, death, medical expenses, loss of companionship and society, loss of consortium, interest, and court costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by New Orleans attorney Laurence E. Best. A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:13-cv-06556

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