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Florida Woman Strangled by Neck Massager

By Jason Beahm on January 03, 2011 5:52 AM

Who knew a neck massager could be so dangerous? Most people assume that they are simply a nice way to relax and loosen muscles. Sadly Dr. Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson was apparently strangled to death by an undisclosed neck massager while wrapping Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve.

Her necklace became tangled with the massager and tightened it around her neck until she lost consciousness and stopped breathing, the Broward County Sheriff's office told the Sun-Sentinel. The 37-year-old physician lived in suburban Fort Lauderdale.

Ferrari-Gegerson's husband found her unconscious on the bedroom floor in their home around 9 p.m. Dec. 24 and called paramedics, who found her already dead upon arrival. While the circumstances surrounding her death are odd, foul play is not suspected in the neck massager strangle death. However, homicide investigators are not releasing the details of the brand and model number of the massaging device until the investigation is complete.

"We are trying to thoroughly investigate the death and determine exactly what happened," said Jim Leljedal, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

More than 1,600 people were injured in 2009 while using massage devices, Reuters reports. That's down from over 1,950 injuries in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Apparently most of those injuries involved sex toys. Contrast that with an average of 300 people injured in the United States by lightning each year.

So could a wrongful death lawsuit be forthcoming? People have sued for much less, but the question that comes to mind is was it foreseeable that this death could have happened. The concept of foreseeability in tort law tends to limit liability to the consequences of an act that could reasonably be foreseen rather than every single consequence that follows.

In light of the neck massager strangle death of Ferrari-Gegerson, consumers are advised to take extra precautions with massage devices. Keep them away from jewelry and anything else that could get tangled in the device.

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