ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Tenitia Cullum, the mother of the 3-year-old boy who died falling into a grease trap in Rochester this summer has filed a notice of claim, with intentions to sue the City of Rochester and Monroe County.
Cullum filed the paperwork in Monroe County Court Friday. Her son, Bryce Raynor, died on July 15, after falling into a grease trap behind the Tim Hortons on University Avenue.
The court paperwork says she intends to sue for negligence by the county and city for failure to maintain, inspect, or control grease traps, as well as a wrongful death claim. The claim also lists conscious pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
“The City of Rochester and County of Monroe were negligent in that it allowed and permitted the lightweight and unsecured cover to exist on the grease trap and failed to inspect, maintain, control, secure or remove the plastic lid on the grease trap or to place any safeguard of any kind to prevent injury,” the filing states.
Cullum is seeking to recover damages, according to the filing.
A county spokesperson said “As a matter of policy, the County declines all comment related to pending or potential litigation.”
Officials from the City of Rochester have not immediately returned a request for comment.
In late July, Cullum hired an attorney, Lori Robb Monaghan, to see who, if anyone, was responsible in her son’s death.
A plastic and unsecured lid covered the grease trap where tragedy struck. Police say the toddler likely stepped on the lid, opening it up and trapping him below.
The tragedy triggered lawmakers to submit legislation regarding grease traps and new laws are calling for stronger materials, more secured lids, and annual inspections.
In August, Monroe County officials began inspecting grease traps throughout the region, and found four grease trap covers not secured during the safety sweep.
The day after the boy died, police announced no charges would be filed against the mother in connection to the incident. Cullum was a Tim Hortons employee, and said it wasn’t the first time she had brought Bryce to work with her.
Shortly after the notice of claim was filed Friday, state assemblywoman Jamie Romeo released a statement, saying in part:
“I am filled with a profound sense of sadness and anger. When my office began researching this matter and learned that similar horrific accidents had occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, and New Jersey, I kept returning to the question, why didn’t the industry correct an identified deadly problem?
The utter failure of the industry to correct this problem, when there is a simple and inexpensive solution is unacceptable. We have seen the Great State of New York lead on many fronts and this common-sense solution will be no exception. We have the knowledge, we have the tools will not stop until we can ensure that this is the last time any family will have to endure this nightmare.
I will be updating my bill to require these type of ‘catching’ devices be installed in every outdoor grease trap in New York state.”