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The parents of a drowned 10-year-old is suing the city’s Parks Department, claiming that they didn’t do enough to protect their beloved daughter.
Attorneys for Alma and Bradley Johnson, the parents of Akira Johnson, filed a notice of claim against the city, the first step toward their $10 million negligence suit.
The family contends that the city should have shut down Coney Island’s beaches on the weekend of their daughter’s death upon learning of reports that unsettled seas throughout the region had claimed the lives of a handful of people.
Officials said that turbulent waves caused by a series of storm surges swept Akira away from her cousin Tyriek Currie on the afternoon of July 26 as the two played in the waters off of West 24th Street and the Reigelman Boardwalk.
Riptides reportedly killed seven people across New York’s eastern seaboard that weekend, officials said.
Upwards of four lifeguards went out to find the little girl, who disappeared under the churning surf.
For several days, search parties flooded the seas looking for Akira, whose body was finally recovered in Brighton Beach two weeks later.
While Akira’s death created a new call for more safety precautions at city beaches, Parks Department officials said at the time that they were “continuing with their safety plan as mandated,” and that no changes would be implemented.
Back in July, a Parks Department spokesperson said that their beach safety plan came with well placed signs warning swimmers about strong currents and riptides.
“The lifeguards did everything they could by following the safety plan,” the spokesperson said. “The simmers at the city beaches are safe and continue to be safe because of this plan.”
The child’s death did prompt local elected officials from dispersing handouts to swimmers, written in both English and Russian, warning them about riptides and swimming too close to rocks and piers. Swimmers were also encouraged to keep young children within arms reach of an adult when in the water.
During an interview with the New York Post, Bradley Johnson said he hoped the lawsuit would prompt the city to think up “new rules for the beaches.”
As a policy the city does not comment on pending litigation.
A judge threw out a borough woman’s lawsuit against a travel web site, where she claimed promises of a beautiful, luxurious vacation in the Dominican Republic were far from truthful.
In fact, their Caribbean trip was sheer hell, plaintiffs Galina Kaloyeva and Esfir Geller claimed in the suit, which was adjudicated last week.
The two alleged that they purchased a stay at the Santana Beach Resort & Casino in the Dominican Republic last year after visiting Apple Vacation’s Internet website.
The website reported that the Santana Beach Resort had “white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, fresh fish and a superb international cuisine,” Kaloyeva and Geller claimed.
Yet, when they arrived at the resort, they found the waters murky, the beach swarming with insects and the hotel rooms infested with bed bugs.
Oh, and the food made them ill, the lawsuit claims.
Kaloyeva sued Apple Vacations for fraud, negligence, breach of contract and deceptive practices in violation of the Truth in Travel Act.
Apple Vacations, which is located out of state, responded to the lawsuit with a motion to dismiss, claiming that Kaloyeva’s fight was with the resort in the Dominican Republic, not with them, since all of the problems arose there.
Their role was simply in booking the vacation, not in supplying the hotel, the beaches and the food, they said.
Attorneys for Apple Vacations also contended that they should not be held liable in New York State, because they are not located there.
While Judge Sylvia G. Ash found the second argument erroneous, since their website could be accessed by those in New York State, several questions about Kaloyeva’s motion, which was filed pro se, without an attorney’s help, warranted it’s dismissal without prejudice.
Judge Ash called Kaloyeva’s pro se motion “confusing,” recently released court documents show.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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