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Family of toddler who died in Valrico septic tank sues landowner

TAMPA — The family of a toddler who died last year after falling into an open septic tank in Valrico is suing the manager of the mobile home park where the accident took place.

A complaint filed Monday in Hillsborough Circuit Court alleges that Samuel D. Williamson failed to maintain safe conditions at the Silver Lane Mobile Home Park.

Juan Luis Martinez Ventura and his wife, Rosalina Ramirez, are seeking $18 million for the alleged wrongful death of their son, 2-year-old Luis Martinez, who fell through the tank's uncovered access port Nov. 27 and drowned.

The boy's parents were renting a trailer in the park from Williamson at the time of the accident while working as laborers at his Dover strawberry farm.

"They're still very, very traumatized," said Brent Probinsky, the family's attorney. "It looks very clear to us that the farmer was responsible for failing to maintain the property."

Probinsky's Sarasota-based firm has represented migrant workers in Florida in various legal matters.

In an investigation prior to filing the suit, the firm found other potential safety hazards and possible violations of housing and public health laws, Probinsky said.

"When we walked the site, we found another septic tank that was also lacking a cover," said Leonard Succar, a lawyer with the firm.

Witnesses also reported that a caretaker of the property was aware of the hole in the tank and had informed the front office, but nothing had been done, Succar said.

"It's really an egregious circumstance," he said. "We see a lot of bad cases, but this is one that bites into you."

Williamson could not be reached Wednesday for a comment.

Standard Property LLC, Williamson's company that owns the mobile home park, also is named as a defendant in the suit.

Martinez's parents still live in Hillsborough County, but no longer reside in the mobile home park, Probinsky said.

Family of toddler who died in Valrico septic tank sues landowner 02/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:35pm]
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