Family sues Airbnb after 19-month-old dies of fentanyl toxicity during Florida vacation

The family of a 19-month-old child who died after allegedly being exposed to fentanyl at an Airbnb property in Florida is suing the vacation rental company over the child’s death.

Enora Lavenir died Aug. 7, 2021, while her family was staying at a rental in Wellington, Florida, during a visit from France, the family said in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Court.

The child died of acute fentanyl toxicity and the Palm Beach Medical Examiner’s Office ruled it accidental.

However, it is not clear how the child ingested the fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, or where it came from.

The lawsuit alleges that while the Airbnb listing advertised the unit as a “peaceful place to stay,” it had a history of being used as a party house. Days before the French family arrived, according to the complaint, someone threw a party where drugs were consumed.

Enora was exposed to fentanyl residue left in the rental, according to the suit, which accuses Airbnb, the owner of the rental property, the property manager and a previous guest of negligence in the child’s death.

How did Enora die?

Enora’s mother, Lydie Lavenir, reserved the four-bedroom, two-bedroom lake house in the affluent residential neighborhood from Aug. 6 to Aug. 9, 2021, for a family vacation for herself, her husband and their five children, the suit says .

The family checked out the rental property on August 6. Enora played and relaxed with her sisters and took a nap with her older sister on one of the beds in the house the next morning.

More than an hour into the baby’s sleep, Lydie Lavenir went to check on her and “found her unresponsive and foaming at the mouth,” prompting cries and screams for help, according to the suit, filed in December.

She performed chest compressions on the child and the family called 911. Enora was taken to HCA Florida Palms West Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Enora’s father, Boris, recalled the terror his wife felt when she found their daughter unresponsive.

Lydie Lavenir and Boris Lavenir.
Lydie Lavenir and Boris Lavenir.NBC News

“Then I heard, ‘Enora is dead! Enora is dead,'” he told NBC Nightly News.

A medical examiner’s report found that Enora had a “lethal level of fentanyl” in her blood – a drug her parents said they had never heard of before her death.

Overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, have hit the US hard, with more than 56,000 people dying from an overdose in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The number of overdose deaths related to such drugs that year was more than 18 times the number of deaths in 2013.

After months of investigation, it is unclear where the fentanyl that killed Enora came from.

“There were no signs of any narcotic medications or illegal narcotics at the crime scene and her death was listed as accidental,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in an incident report.

The Enora case is now closed pending a viable outcome, according to the sheriff’s office.

The medical examiner’s investigative report says the parents tested negative for drugs and Enora’s formula also tested negative.

In the sheriff’s office report, investigators said a resident in the neighborhood reported a “big party” at the scene two nights before the Lavenir family’s arrival. The report also states that investigators were told there were “several parties and rentals in advance. for the family’s stay at the location.”

Family accuses Airbnb of ‘negligence’, says it was a ‘party house’ for rent

The suit alleges Airbnb failed to ensure the property was safe for the Lavenir family.

While Airbnb says parties and drugs are prohibited at its rentals, the company has failed to issue warnings about risks and ensure spaces are properly sanitized, according to the suit.

“Actually, the property had a history of being used as a party house and just days before had hosted a group of about a dozen adults who used cocaine and other drugs, including but not limited to be limited to fentanyl throughout the home,” the suit says. say.

It also alleges that Airbnb’s cleaning procedures are “not sufficient to decontaminate properties and eliminate the risk” of drugs or residue.

Airbnb owed a duty of reasonable care to the safety of its guests and provided rentals free of drugs and residue left by previous guests and provided adequate warning of the risk of harm, according to the suit.

An Airbnb spokesperson offered condolences to Enora’s family in a brief statement that did not mention the suit.

“Our hearts go out to the Lavenir family and their loved ones for their tragic loss,” the spokesman said.

The Lavenir family’s booking was the first time the property had ever been booked through Airbnb, but it had been leased on other rental sites.

The complaint also accuses the owner of the rental, Ronald M. Cortamilia, and his manager, Yulia A. Timpy, who controlled reservations, as well as previous guest Aaron Kornhauser, who booked the space through a Vrbo vacation rental, of negligence.

The suit says days before the Lavenir family’s check-in date, Aaron Kornhauser was visiting Palm Beach County for a concert. He rented the property from July 30 to August 1, 2021, for six adults. However, Kornhauser ended up staying there with 11 other adults, according to the complaint. He gave or allowed others to give “illegal drugs” including cocaine, fentanyl and marijuana, which were consumed throughout the property including the bedrooms and the kitchen counter, the lawsuit says.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office incident report shows investigators who interviewed Kornhauser said individuals at the residence used cocaine and marijuana but not fentanyl. He told authorities he could not explain how fentanyl got into the residence.

In response to the complaint, an attorney for Kornhauser said “the negligence of the decedent’s parents was the sole cause or contributing cause of the alleged injuries and damages.”

The attorney claimed that the damages in the complaint were caused by the negligence of other parties that Kornhauser had no control over and could not be held liable for, including the co-defendants and anyone present at the property as cleaners or later renters.

An attorney for Cortamilia, the owner of the property, also blamed the parents, saying that “the negligence and careless behavior of the parents of the deceased was the sole cause or cause of the alleged damages.”

NBC News reached out to attorneys for Kornhauser and Vrbo for comment but did not hear back. A lawyer for Cortamilia had no further comment. Tippy, the manager, does not have an attorney listed in online court records. Attempts to reach Tippy were unsuccessful.

Authorities previously tried to talk to renters and spoke to neighbors but ultimately were unable to determine how Enora ingested the fentanyl and where the drug came from, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

The Lavenir family’s attorney, Thomas Scolaro, said the family is “deeply devastated” by the loss of their daughter and hopes to draw attention to the dangers of fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is extremely powerful. So you’re talking about just a few grains of salt particles, which would cause this level of toxicity to a 19-month-old child,” he said.

“I’m not surprised the sheriff’s office didn’t find a large cache of fentanyl in the unit,” Scolaro added. drugs in that unit and the child was not exposed anywhere else, period. There is literally no other place imaginable that this child could have found this fentanyl but in that rental house.”

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