Parent brings wrongful death claim against toy manufacturer

By John O'Brien | Nov 22, 2006

WHEELING - A Martinsburg man whose infant son choked on a toy and died is suing the toy's manufacturer.

WHEELING - A Martinsburg man whose infant son choked on a toy and died is suing the toy's manufacturer.

Stephen Tetlow filed his lawsuit individually and as the executor of Zakary Tetlow Nov. 16 in Ohio Circuit Court against Hasbro, Inc., of Rhode Island.

The toy in question is a PlaySkool Cool Crew Team Talkin' Tool Bench that includes a toy drill, saw, hammer, screwdriver, vice and plastic nails and screws.

On Jan. 8, the complaint alleges that Zakary was thought to be napping when his mother Audrey went in to check on him.

"As she opened the door, she saw Zakary lying in a diagonal manner on the floor with his back toward the doorway," the suit says. "As she approached, she noticed that his lips were blue and he was struggling for breath. She also saw that something was protruding from his lips.

"Audrey Tetlow discovered, and the West Virginia State Medical examiner later confirmed, that Zakary had swallowed a detachable nail that was a part of the toy. The nail completely blocked the passage of air between Zakary's lungs and could not be removed by Mrs. Tetlow."

Zakary was taken to the hospital but died before the nail could be removed, the suit says. The Tetlows assert that the product was defective because it was unreasonably dangerous to those who used it.

"Defendant Hasbro failed to give adequate and proper warnings and instructions regarding the dangers of said toy, which said failures were a design and use defect which rendered said toy defective and unreasonably dangerous for its intended use, and the said use defect and failure to warn was a proximate cause of Zakary Tetlow's death," the complaint says.

The Tetlows seek compensation for medical and funeral expenses, emotional distress, loss of society, services and income and pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages.

Robert Berthold of Berthold, Tiano and O'Dell in Charleston is representing the plaintiff.

Judge Ronald Wilson has been assigned the case.

Ohio Circuit Court case number 06-C-424

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