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Woman sues Airbnb for injuries in North Side party shooting

Airbnb has been fined by the Treasury Department for apparent violations of sanctions against Cuba. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A Pittsburgh woman injured when she jumped from a second-story window to flee gunfire during an April 16 party on the North Side is suing Airbnb for negligence.

She filed her lawsuit, which also seeks damages from the Pittsburgh-based owners of the rental property, on Wednesday in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

About 200 people, many underage, were at a party in the Airbnb rental property on Suismon Street when at least one person opened fire on April 17.

Dejonia Rosser, 19, suffered “severe fractures” to her right leg, as well as damage to ligaments, tendons and tissue in her left wrist and left hand as a result of the fall, her attorney, George Kontos, told the Tribune-Review. She underwent multiple surgeries for her injuries.

In the lawsuit, Kontos claims that Airbnb knew big parties at its rental properties occasionally evolved into violent crimes, citing headline-grabbing incidents in Florida and California. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

An Airbnb spokesperson defended the company Wednesday.

“Airbnb strictly bans parties, and we condemn the behavior that is alleged to have prompted this criminal gun violence,” spokesperson Ben Breit said in a prepared statement. “The booking guest has been issued a lifetime ban from Airbnb and we will be considering all legal options to hold this person accountable.

“We share the Pittsburgh community’s outrage regarding this tragic gun violence.”

The shooting happened shortly after 12:30 a.m. Easter morning at a rental unit in East Allegheny, a small neighborhood bordering I-279. Pittsburgh Police have said around 200 people were in the unit at the intersection of Suismon Street and Madison Avenue when the shooting started.

The gunfire — at least 50 rounds fired inside and just as many outside, police have said — sent people running for cover, with some, like Rosser, jumping from windows to escape.

Two teen boys were killed. Eight others were injured by gunfire and five were hurt trying to escape.

“When the gunfire started, there was only one way in and one way out,” Kontos said. “[Rosser] took action to save her life, which it might have.”

“This wasn’t something that was an isolated incident and they didn’t have policies in force to prevent this from happening,” he added. “Frankly I think it’s a pretty straight-forward claim … [Airbnb] knew these things happened and they failed to protect members of the public from parties like this.”

Airbnb strengthened its policies against renters hosting open-invitation parties in June this year. Kontos called the changes “too little, too late.”

Kontos would not say if Rosser knew anyone injured or killed during the party. Rosser “had acquaintances” at the party, which was advertised in part through an online flier, and arrived at the party around 11:15 p.m. on April 16, according to Kontos and the lawsuit.

Kontos also maintained the Airbnb should have taken action to shut down the party before it started — due to the spread of the online fliers.

“Airbnb is a billion-dollar company,” he said. “They have the resources to review the Internet — there was warning about this they should have caught.”

Police have not said who rented the Airbnb. Breit, the spokesperson for the company, said that renters must be an adult. He did not elaborate.


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