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March 12, 2010

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Parents sue over son's 38-floor fatal rooftop fall

A Chinese-Japanese couple is seeking a compensation of 2.58 million yuan (US$377,823) from a local property management company, saying its negligent management caused the death of their 10-year-old son.

Changning District People's Court held the second hearing of the lawsuit yesterday without giving a verdict.

The compensation includes 1 million yuan for mental anguish.

Police said that on March 18, 2009, the boy fell from the rooftop of the 38-story Kerry Residence, where the family has lived since 2005. He went up on his own after finishing his homework.

According to the police investigation, a key reason for the accident was that the last glass door to the roof top was one-way: People could easily open the door and go through. But it would be locked from the inside after it was closed. People couldn't get back in without a key.

Police concluded the boy got stuck in this way. An analysis of his fingerprints and footprints at the scene showed that he had tried to save himself. At last, he possibly climbed onto the rails of the roof top to seek help and fell after losing hold of the rails, the court heard.

The plaintiffs said that Kerry Construction Management (Shanghai) Co Ltd and Kerry Development (Shanghai) Co Ltd, as developers and managers of the building, were responsible for constructing a building with high potential danger and for failing to attach a warning to the glass door.

The couple, who said they have suffered from depression after the accident, want the defendants to make public apologies in China's major media.

"We didn't file the lawsuit for money," the mother said. "We want to punish the property management company and the developer by seeking huge compensation to avoid more tragedies."

The defendants denied any responsibility. They said no evidence can prove directly that the boy fell from the roof top.

The defendants also contended that the boy didn't take proper self-help measures even if he was stuck, and should have waited until residents in the top-floor apartments returned.

Besides, the parents also had responsibility for not supervising their son well, the defendants said.


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