East County News Service
March 29, 2017 (San Diego) – Trial begins this week in a case filed against Petco for selling a pet rat with rat bite fever that killed Aidan Pankey, a 10-year-old Santee boy in 2013.
An earlier court ruling paved the way for the suit to proceed, 10 News reports. In the earlier case, the judge wrote, ““The sale of pet rats by Petco in a diseased condition implicates strict liability principles. Thus, the sale of pet rats may be considered a 'product' and plaintiffs may pursue their strict liability cause of action.”
Petco had tried to argue that since it had customers sign release forms warning of rare but potential risks, it should not be liable for the child’s death from the infection.
But the judge found that customers should be able to hold companies responsible for making sure that their suppliers are providing products that are safe – in this case, pets that are free of potentially lethal diseases.
Aidan’s family has said that their main goal is to make sure that this won’t happen to anyone else’s child.
Petco has previously said it adheres to strict standards of care for the animals that it sells, but has not commented on the pending litigation.