A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on Thursday, nearly a year after Gloria Serge was fatally attacked by an alligator at a Florida retirement community
The family of an 85-year-old Florida woman who was fatally attacked by an alligator last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Authorities previously confirmed to PEOPLE that the victim, Gloria Serge, was "walking her small dog along a retention pool" in Ft. Pierce’s Spanish Lakes Fairways – a retirement community where she lived – when a 10-foot-long alligator "pulled her into the water" on Feb. 20.
Serge was a mother of five children, a grandmother of 15, and a great-grandmother of nine, according to a press release from Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, the firm representing the family. She lived in Spanish Lakes Fairways for almost 30 years and often walked her dog Trooper there.
“I was told there had been an event and law enforcement was on the scene,” son Bill Serge said in a statement when the lawsuit was announced, per TCPalm.com. “But I never could have imagined the agonizing way in which my mom spent the final moments of her life.”
A complaint was filed Thursday on behalf of Serge’s family against the Wynne Building Corporation, the owner of Spanish Lakes Fairways.
"The alligator grabbed Ms. Serge by the foot and dragged her into the pond where it disfigured her body and drowned her," lawyers said in the complaint. "Ms. Serge died as a result of this violent attack.”
The complaint alleged that Spanish Lakes Fairways “knew or should have known that the retention pond located directly behind Ms. Serge’s residence contained multiple large, dangerous alligators that meet the definition of a nuisance under Florida law. These nuisance alligators constituted a dangerous condition on the property owned, managed and/or controlled by the Defendant."
PEOPLE reached out to Wynne Building Corporation for comment Friday but did not immediately hear back. The president of the company, Joel Wynne, reportedly said Thursday that he had not seen the lawsuit, per TCPalm.com.
The complaint further claimed that Spanish Lakes Fairways violated its duties of reasonable care when the community allegedly permitted its residents and staff to feed the wildlife in the retention pond and walk near it, among other things.
"The Defendant knew that alligators constituting a dangerous condition existed on its property, it failed to take reasonable steps to remove this dangerous condition and instead actually made the condition more dangerous by permitting residents and employees to have regular contact with the alligators," lawyers for the woman's family alleged in the complaint. "At the same time, the Defendant failed to warn residents including Ms. Serge of the existence of the alligators, or the dangers that they posed.’
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Gary Lesser, one of the attorneys representing Gloria Serge’s family, says her death was fully preventable.
“We have an 85-year-old lady who was told she can’t walk her dog in the community, she can’t walk her dog in her front yard. So she has to walk her dog in the backyard," he tells PEOPLE, alleging that the residents of the community "were actually told to socialize, to go by this retention pond where the association knew there were alligators."
Lesser says that in filing the lawsuit, the woman's family hopes that they can prevent similar deaths from happening in the future.
“It's about alligator safety for people in general,” he says, “but especially for homeowners associations and property owners that can control what happens when they know dangerous alligators are present. One phone call [to the Florida Wildlife Commission] literally could have saved a life here.”
According to the complaint, the family is seeking over $50,000 in legal and monetary damages as well as a trial by jury.
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