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January 5, 2012 Press Releases

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2012) —  Attorneys representing Aja and Daniel Howell, the parents of an Oceanside, Calif., toddler who died tragically last summer after choking on a pushpin, filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court today, seeking unspecified damages against the Oceanside Montessori School for wrongful death.

According to David S. Casey, Jr., a partner with Casey Gerry and lead attorney for the Howells, following an official state investigation, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed in October 2011 that three-year-old Tyler Howell died as a result of asphyxiation on August 8, 2011, after choking on a pushpin while attending the Oceanside Montessori School.

“We allege that Tyler died as the direct result of negligence and carelessness on the part of the preschool, which was officially cited for failure to provide a safe, healthful environment for students,” Casey said. “Pushpins are a well-known hazard for children, and should under no circumstances be accessible to toddlers. The Howell family hopes that ultimately, this litigation will lead to pushpins being permanently banned in preschools.”

According to Casey, the California Department of Social Services confirmed the school’s negligence, giving it multiple violations. “CDSS formally cited the school for violating three rules pertaining to care and supervision, proper storage of supplies and failure to provide to safe, healthful and comfortable accommodations, furnishings and equipment. All of these violations played a key role in Tyler’s tragic and needless death,” he explained.

According to the autopsy report released by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, a teacher at the school reportedly heard the child gasping at 12:55 p.m. August 8.  School staff members immediately called 911, but rescuers could not revive the boy, and he was pronounced dead at Tri-City Medical Center shortly thereafter. The autopsy confirmed that the youngster died as the result of accidental asphyxia due to airway obstruction by a pushpin.

About Casey Gerry
Celebrating more than 60 years in San Diego, Casey Gerry was established in 1947, and is the oldest plaintiffs’ law firm in San Diego. The firm’s 12 attorneys practice in numerous areas, including asbestos, serious personal injury, product liability and pharmaceutical litigation. Located in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood of San Diego, the firm also has a satellite office in Carlsbad, Calif. For more information, call (619) 238-1811 or visit