Jett Travolta: The Tragic Death of John Travolta’s Boy


Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: January 4, 2009

It was with great sadness that I read the news of the tragic and untimely passing of 16 year old Jett Travolta, son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston. Apparently, the boy suffered from Kawasaki Disease which is a childhood ailment.

How did he die? No one really knows yet but the current conventional wisdom is that young Jett suffered regularly from seizures and that, on this occasion, he fell and hit his head during one of those seizures. Various news reports state that he was attended to by nannies but was left unattended this one time. Again, we do not know the details yet and all of the conventional wisdom is actually only conventional conjecture.

The family is suffering enough without having to look for blame. Was negligent supervision or training of the nanny involved? Did someone breach their duty to the boy and to the family? These are painful questions that will undoubtedly be investigated in the coming months and, quite possibly, years. Will we ever know the answer? Maybe not but here’s what we do know: An innocent boy has died and, with that death, is the excruciating pain that John and Kelly, his loving parents, will suffer for the remainder of their lives.

What is negligent supervision? It is a legal concept that forms the basis of many of the cases that I handle. It usually appears in situations wherein someone is injured or killed as a result of someone failing to supervise the activities of those in their charge (i.e., employer/employee, teacher/student, doctor/nurse, lawyer/paralegal). We plead negligent supervision in lawsuits when, but for the actor being improperly supervised, the injured person would not have been injured. This can occur in a plethora of situations such as automobile accidents, assault & battery by a security guard against a customer, slip & fall incidents and medical malpractice matters.

Likewise, negligent training occurs when a person carries out an activity for which he/she has been improperly trained by the employer and, but for that poor training, someone is injured as a result. A gruesome example would be a paramedic who was improperly trained in the art of CPR and, as a result, a heart attack victim succumbs to the coronary.

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