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A California family has filed a lawsuit against Petco after a 10-year-old boy passed away following being bitten by a rat purchased at the chain of pet stores.  Aiden Pankey died last summer from rat bite fever, disease reportedly carried by a rat the family had purchased from a Petco store in San Diego.


What Happened?

On Memorial Day in 2013, Aiden and his grandmother went to the pet store to get a companion for his pet rat, Oreo. But two weeks after buying the rat, the boy came down with what the family describes as flu-like symptoms, and within 48 hours died.  Sharon Pankey, the boy’s grandmother, said, “I put him to bed after a day at the doctor’s office and the next thing I knew it just was too late. I went into his room and he couldn’t speak. He was unstable on his feet. I got him down to my room and he collapsed on the floor. I called 911 because it was scaring me that his breathing was shallow and he seemed to be losing his ability to function.”

At first, doctors didn’t know what had happened. More than six months later, at Christmas, a medical examiner confirmed to the family that Aiden had died from the infection disease know as rat bite fever. The disease is rare and transmitted by rodents, rats, or mice, and when treated properly, the prognosis is good. However, a particular strain can cause serious complications and death.

The family is suing Petco for failing to have sufficient procedures in place to prevent accidents like this one happening. They are suing for liability and negligence, and are seeking compensatory and punitive damage.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

This tragic case likely could have been prevented. In cases of wrongful death and negligence, it is important to seek legal representation for help with your case. In cases such as these, where a death, illness, or injury could have been prevented, it’s important to hold responsible parties liable. Personal injury attorneys can help you work through the case, which can be extremely beneficial as they will know the best ways to approach insurance companies, doctors, and other responsible parties involved.  If you need help with a case of negligence or personal injury including wrongful death, contact Malman Law today.

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Steven Malman was selected to the list. The list is issued by the American Institute of Legal Counsel. A description of the selection methodology can be found at

  • Steven Malman was selected to the list. The list is issued by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. A description of the selection methodology can be found at

  • Steven Malman was selected to the list for 2018-2019.

  • Only the top 100 trial lawyers from each state or highly-populated regions of certain states who are actively practicing in civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law are eligible for invitation. Invitees must demonstrate superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a legal professional. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process based upon objective and uniformly applied criteria which includes peer nominations combined with third party research.

    Prospective members of The NTL are carefully screened prior to receiving an invitation for membership.

  • Top Attorneys Diamond Member

  • Top Attorneys of North America 2019-2020

  • The American Institute of Trial Lawyers is an invitation only professional organization composed of premier trial attorneys from each state. These attorneys exemplify the very best qualities and qualifications of an attorney. Each attorney must meet stringent qualifications as a civil or criminal trial attorney. These attorneys practice in a variety of fields to help and promote the ethical and elite practice of law. Selection is based on a thorough multi phase process which includes peer nominations and third party research. Each member must be in good standing with their local compliance organization. Membership is extended to only a select few in each state and/or region.

  • As the founder of Steven J. Malman and Associates, P.C., Attorney Steven Malman has 21 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, premises liability, construction and workers’ compensation cases. Mr. Malman is one of Chicago’s leading authorities on personal injury law and has taken a special interest in defending the elderly from neglect and abuse. He has personally handled over 10,000 cases successfully, and collected hundreds of millions dollars for his clients.

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