New Haven law firm LoRicco, Trotta & LoRicco on Sept. 14 filed the notice of intent to sue the town on behalf of Richard and Diane Veenhuis, according to legal papers. The Veenhuis family will sue the town for negligence that resulted in the death of their son, Cole, who drowned in the family's swimming pool, attorney Frederick Trotta Sr. said Friday.
Also named as defendants in the notice are Michele Repko and her daughter, Krista, who was baby-sitting Cole and his twin sister, Hannah when the drowning occurred. Hannah is listed with her parents as seeking damages from the town and the Repkos, according to Trotta.
"This has had a profound effect on the Veenhuis family," Trotta said. "They feel quite betrayed by Michele Repko's misrepresentation of her daughter's fitness to be a baby-sitter."
Trotta said the town is party to the lawsuit, which he intends to file within two months, because Michele Repko met the Veenhuis family while working with Cole at the Darcey School, the town's only public kindergarten, to improve the child's speech. Also, Krista Repko took a baby-sitting class that was run by the town, Trotta said.
Town Manager Michael Milone confirmed Friday that the town had received the Veenhuises' intent to sue letter, but declined to comment on the matter.
At some point after meeting the Veenhuis family, the relationship between Michele Repko and the family grew to the point where she recommended her daughter as a baby-sitter for Cole and Hannah, the attorney said. Richard and Diane Veenhuis met Krista Repko and were comfortable enough with her being around Cole and Hannah that they let the teenager take the twins to one of her baby-sitting classes, Trotta said.
But Trotta said the lawsuit will contend that on the day that Cole drowned, Krista Repko "froze up for a significant period of time and didn't immediately jump into the pool to rescue the youngster."
"The girl's a shot-putter on the Cheshire High School track team and an honor roll student," Trotta said. "How does somebody like that not jump into the pool immediately when she saw the boy in the pool?"
Trotta added that rescue efforts were hampered when Krista Repko couldn't initially give a police dispatcher the address where was she baby-sitting.
"Emergency services did a magnificent job coaxing it out of her," Trotta said.
Following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the drowning, the police and the state's attorney's office chose not to press charges, he said.
The Repkos were not available for comment Friday.
Credit: New Haven Register, Conn.