Family files lawsuit, says 19-month-old died after being exposed to fentanyl at Florida Airbnb

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville attorney is cautioning vacation rental owners to make sure their rentals are clean after each guest leaves.

This after the family of a 19-month-old girl filed a wrongful death lawsuit, saying she died after coming in contact with fentanyl residue at a Wellington Airbnb.

“It’s obviously a risk when you invite people you never met to stay in your home,” explained Boone Lewis, who is the co-owner of a rental home outside of St. Augustine.

He says after each stay, he has a cleaning service come through.

“Our team implements something that is becoming standard. They have a post clean check where whoever does the clean … lets their management know they’re complete and then someone will come by and do a quick passthrough,” Lewis said.

This is to reduce risks to future guests.

But, the mother of the toddler who died says that didn’t happen at the Wellington AirBNB they were staying at. In a wrongful death suit that was filed against the owner, the property manager, Airbnb and the person who rented the place before them. The mother says her 19-year-old daughter died after “coming into contact with fentanyl residue that was left behind in their Airbnb rental.”

The lawsuit goes on to say that a toxicology reading indicated a quick death, ruling out the little girl coming into contact with the fentanyl anywhere else.

The mom says that the rental should’ve been free of drugs.

Attorney Curtis Fallgatter, who is not affiliated with the case, says the mother’s lawsuit might be easy to prove. He says her attorney needs to prove negligence.

“The prosecutors have to prove negligence and, of course, they’re not going to look just at the Airbnb owner, but, of course, the prior tenant that left the drugs behind and looks like to admitting to having done so,” Fallgatter said. “So to me, it’s sort of inherent if you leave something behind that’s dangerous that’s the definition of negligent.”

That attorney says for Airbnb owners to reduce risks like this in the future, what they have to do is thoroughly clean their homes.

A comment from Airbnb reads that their hearts go out to the “family and their loved ones for their devastating loss.”

They also said that Airbnb is no longer listed and that the family who is suing them were the first ever Airbnb guests to stay in the property. The property had previously been rented out on other sites.

About the Author:

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.