Toddler Airbnb fentanyl death prompts calls for poison control
US: Airbnb is facing a lawsuit after a toddler died from fentanyl poisoning at an Airbnb short-term rental listing near Miami.
According to DEA.gov, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin.
It is believed that the 19-month-old infant died after ingesting fentanyl in a rented lakefront house listed on the company’s platform. The parents, Lydie and Boris Lavenir, are now suing Airbnb over their daughter’s death.
The couple noticed their child, Enora, foaming at the mouth and blue in the face when putting her down for a nap inside their rented lakehouse in Wellington, Florida.
A Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office representative said that the case was currently closed while deputies wait for essential leads. Investigators have been able to establish that the opioid was present in the property itself, though both parents have since tested negative for the substance.
The final report read: “I am currently unable to determine how the child [Enora Lavenir] ingested the fentanyl. Therefore, I am unable to develop probable cause for abuse or neglect leading to the death of Enora. Currently, the manner of death is listed as accidental.”
The family’s attorney, Thomas Scolaro, said that Airbnb and the host should be deemed negligent for not properly cleaning the home between guest stays.
Scolaro said: “The only thing we have here is our common sense. It was definitely in that unit, that Airbnb.
“Which particular person left the drugs is frankly not anything I’m trying to prove. What I want to show is Airbnb provided no cleanup, no warning, no measure of safety for the family,” he added.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Airbnb introduced an enhanced cleaning programme that provides a series of instructions for hosts to better clean their property, including guidelines on masks and social distancing, based on recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. The protocol also includes a 72-hour booking buffer tool, as well as a requirement that hosts block out a 24-hour period between stays.
Guests are able to see these ratings and can filter listings based on enhanced cleaning status, as well as other key elements. Customers can filter by entire properties, kitchens and swimming pools.
In December, Airbnb announced that it would refine its search results and enhance transparency in the booking process to include cleaning fees in the total display prices. Airbnb users are now able to see the total prices they pay upfront, with the platform prioritising the total price instead of the nightly price in its search ranking algorithm.
Airbnb had previously been the subject of a series of customer complaints about cleaning fees and other hidden charges.
Justin Ford, director of safety at property operations platform Breezeway, called for enhanced cleaning inspections and training procedures for staff to avoid a repeat of the incident in the future.
Ford said: “This incident highlights the growing challenge short-term rental owners and managers face when ensuring properties are safe for all guests. Calls to poison control have been increasing in the US.
“Ensuring chemicals and cleaning solutions are always out of harm’s reach is one measure short-term rental operators must address but it is also important to ensure rentals are thoroughly cleaned between stays. To reduce risk, it’s imperative to have processes around inspections and ensure staff are properly trained on these processes,” he added.