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Lawsuit against Airbnb over 19-month-old's drug-poisoning death reveals reality of fentanyl crisis

A recent report published by Families Against Fentanyl found that children under age 14 are dying from fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group in America.

Published: March 9, 2023 3:00pm

Updated: March 9, 2023 11:20pm

(The Center Square) -

A 19-month-old girl died from fentanyl poisoning after being exposed to the lethal opioid unbeknownst to the parents who booked a vacation rental in Florida. Her death occurred in August 2021, but a recently filed lawsuit against Airbnb and others brings to light the reality parents are facing on a daily basis, authorities say: children are dying from fentanyl.

Lydie and Boris Lavenir and their children traveled from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to Wellington, Florida, near West Palm Beach, for vacation. They arrived at their Airbnb rental and after their daughter played and went down for a nap, she never woke up, according to the lawsuit. By the time paramedics arrived, it was too late. The Lavenirs didn’t know their daughter died from fentanyl poisoning until an autopsy was performed.

Their attorney, Thomas Scolaro, told Fox & Friends First they had “plans for a nice, simple family vacation. Everything seemed fine. They put their baby down for a nap after she played in the house for a little bit and then go to wake her up a few hours later, and they were met with a lifeless body. It's just every parent's absolute worst nightmare."

Law enforcement officers were unable to identify the source of fentanyl in the rental, no criminal charges were filed, and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office confirmed the case was closed, The Washington Post reported. However, the Lavenirs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Airbnb, the property owner, the rental manager and a prior renter who allegedly held a party where cocaine was present. Because investigators couldn’t determine how the child ingested fentanyl, her death was listed as accidental, the Post reported.

Without commenting on the lawsuit, an Airbnb spokesperson told several news outlets, "Our hearts go out to the Lavenir family and their loved ones for this devastating loss."

Upon hearing of the child’s death, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody tweeted it was “heartbreaking” and a result of “[President] Joe Biden’s America – Mexican fentanyl is now so widespread that kids 14 & under are the fastest-growing age group overdosing.”

She’s referring to a recent report published by Families Against Fentanyl that found that children under age 14 are dying from fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group in America. It notes that synthetic opioid (fentanyl) poisoning is still the leading cause of death among Americans between ages 18 and 45.

The Laviner’s lawsuit news comes after a 10-month-old last December was saved after being exposed to fentanyl by crawling on grass at a California park and after Hays County, Texas, resident Brandon Dunn testified before Congress last month about his son’s death from fentanyl poisoning.

Because illicit fentanyl is being brought into the U.S. through the southern border, Dunn said, “given the lethality of this drug any amount smuggled in in a backpack or a fanny pack or even in somebody’s pocket can be enough to kill thousands of people. It’s not just a border checkpoint issue. Without immediate medical intervention, a person is not likely to survive. That’s how fast it kills.”

Moody has more than once called on the Biden administration to designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction, leading a coalition of 18 attorneys general calling on the president to take action. They’ve received no response. FAF also called on the Biden administration to classify fentanyl as a WMD and received no response.

On Wednesday, Moody again called on the president, saying, “Biden, do your job, secure the border & protect our children.”

While Florida law enforcement officers are actively thwarting cartel operations facilitating fentanyl smuggling into the state, the volume is greater than their efforts. In just a few months’ time last year, for example, enough fentanyl was seized to kill everyone in Florida.

In Texas, law enforcement officials since March 2021 have seized enough fentanyl to kill more than everyone in America. In fiscal 2021 and 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized enough fentanyl to kill five billion people.

Moody’s Dose of Reality, One Pill Can Kill website includes resources to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl. It’s Fast Facts on Fentanyl toolkit includes a DEA Emoji Drug Code to educate parents about how digital dealers are selling illicit drugs targeting minors through social media apps.

Federal and state law enforcement leaders are urging Americans nationwide to have the life-saving drug Naloxone/Narcan on hand at all times. The generic/brand drug has been proven to reverse an opioid overdose if administered quickly enough. It’s accessible in most pharmacies with and without a prescription and with or without insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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