Woman’s Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Alligator Attack

When you think of animal attacks, you may think of someone getting bitten by a dog or perhaps a mountain lion or bear if they are in the wilderness. Last year in Florida, a woman was killed by an alligator in a subdivision. The family of the woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent real estate company in hopes that this tragedy will not happen to anyone else.

The 85-year-old woman was killed in February 2023 while walking her dog. She was near a pond in the Spanish Lakes Fairways development in Fort Pierce when an alligator came out of a nearby pond and attempted to eat her dog. The reptile then grabbed her by the foot and dragged her into the pond. The alligator ended up killing her. The gator was later caught and euthanized,

The woman did not want to walk her dog in her backyard, but the property manager forced her to. Her choices were to walk her dog on the property or on the development-owned dog run, located more than a mile from her home. The pond where the woman died was in her backyard.

Contributing to the situation was the fact that residents and subdivision staff were allowed to feed the alligator in question, a 10-foot-long reptile named Henry. This socialized the alligator toward human contact despite the dangers of a wild animal.

The alligator could have been removed. Statewide Nuisance Alligator Problem had a toll-free hotline where alligators more than four feet long could be trapped and removed. Henry satisfied that requirement and could have been safely removed from Spanish Lakes Fairway had the property managers wanted to keep the residents safe. But they did not, causing the woman to die a horrible death.

Although Florida has more than 1.25 million alligators, attacks are rare. Between 1948 and 2021, there were 442 unprovoked attacks, with 26 resulting in death. The president of Wynne Building Corporation, which built the Spanish Lakes Fairways subdivision 37 years ago, said that this was the first time an alligator attacked a resident. He is trying to put the blame on the victim, stating that she was a longtime resident and certainly knew of the presence of alligators as well as their dangers.

The woman’s son said that the family was suing because they did not want other families to experience the same pain. He was devastated about the circumstances of his mother’s death.

Dangers of Alligators

Alligators are wild animals. Even though the residents of the subdivision tried to tame the 10-foot gator, these reptiles are still highly unpredictable and dangerous. They can be aggressive if they feel threatened. Here are some dangers that humans need to be aware of when approaching alligators:

  • Physical attacks. Alligators are powerful predators with sharp teeth and strong jaws. In areas where humans and alligators coexist, there is a risk of alligator attacks, and they can be deadly, as seen in this case. Attacks are more likely to occur if the gators feel threatened, cornered, or provoked.
  • Habitat encounters. Alligators primarily inhabit freshwater environments such as swamps, marshes, rivers, and lakes. Encounters between humans and alligators can occur in these habitats, especially in areas where human development encroaches upon alligator territory.
  • Feeding behavior. Alligators are opportunistic feeders and may view small pets or even small children as potential prey if they are near water bodies where alligators live. This was true in this case, where the alligator tried to take the woman’s dog. Unsupervised pets and children near water bodies inhabited by alligators can be at risk.
  • Protecting nests. Female alligators are fiercely protective of their nests and young. During nesting season, which typically occurs in late spring and early summer, female alligators may exhibit aggressive behavior if they perceive a threat to their nest or hatchlings.
  • Disease transmission. Alligators can carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans or other animals. Although the risk of disease transmission from alligators to humans is relatively low, it is still a potential concern. This is especially true if people come into contact with alligator saliva or feces.

Contact Us Today

Many people love animals, but wild ones can cause deadly attacks. It is just part of their nature. Humans need to be aware of this and should never assume an animal won’t hurt them.

Wrongful deaths are devastating situations, especially when the death could have been easily avoided, which is what happened here. The team at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm, can help you get compensation and justice. Schedule a free consultation by calling (954) 876-4344 or filling out the online form. We have offices in Weston, Coral Gables, and Daytona Beach.