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June 15, 2012

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Parents sue local firms for boy's death

A SOUTH Korean couple is suing a local property developer and its management company, alleging building design flaws after their three-year-old boy fell to death from a high-rise in May 2011.

The parents, Chung Kyung Huyan and Seo Shin Young, said the windowsill and guardrail on the corridor of a residential building in Jing'an New Town in Minhang District had flaws that made it easy for their son to climb onto it and fall.

The Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court heard the toddler got separated from his mother and elder brother when shopping in a supermarket. He went back alone to his home, entered the building and took an elevator to go upstairs.

Chung, the boy's father, said his son fell from the window opposite the elevator door on the eighth floor because there was no surveillance except for the ground floor and, according to police, only the window on the eighth floor was open then.

Shanghai Jing'an Xincheng Property Co and Shanghai Jing'an Xincheng Property Management Co said the boy must have fallen from the window of the fourth floor corridor where the family lived. Chung argued this was impossible because his son was 0.95 meter tall and he could only push buttons for the first, second, seventh and eighth floors.

Cao Jia, Chung's lawyer, admitted the design of the windowsill and guardrails met the design code for residential buildings in China, but she pointed out the windowsill, about 0.52 meters away from the ground, was not high enough to prevent the child from climbing.

Cao said after climbing onto the windowsill, the toddler could easily grab the guardrails and climb higher.

The parents appealed to the intermediate court after a lower court ruled the two Shanghai companies had no responsibility for the boy's death. The parents seek compensation of about 370,000 yuan (US$58,065). At yesterday's hearing, the two companies insisted that the boy's death was an accident and they bear no direct responsibility but offered 30,000-yuan compensation. The intermediate court did not issue a judgment yesterday, but it strongly suggested that the companies raise their compensation offer.


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