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Alberta babysitter, 14, sued after fire destroys home

EDMONTON – A northern Alberta teenager, once hailed as a hero, is being sued for a 2007 fire which destroyed the home in which she was babysitting and damaged the one next door.

Aaliyah Braybrook, 14, of Clairmont near Grande Prairie, is named in the lawsuit along with Douglas Mills, who lost his trailer to the fire and is also the father of the two boys she was babysitting. The lawsuit was filed by Mills’s parents, who owned both homes.

Ray Braybrook, Aaliyah’s father, said Wednesday his daughter was served with a statement of claim Sunday evening. The claim alleges negligence on her part in that she was not trained properly to look after the children, who were three and five at the time.

Braybrook said he was stunned when he read the statement of claim, and his daughter was devastated.

Aaliyah, who was 12 at the time of the fire, had taken a babysitting course and a Red Cross safety course. The local fire department called her a hero because she got the two boys and the family pet out of the burning home. The fire on July 12, 2007, was apparently started by the five-year-old playing with a lighter in the bathroom.

The lawsuit is for $350,000, Braybrook said. "It just blows me away that they could do this to someone who saved a couple of kids. Who sues a hero? I’m assuming it is the insurance companies because they can be pretty heartless."

Braybrook said he has been advised by his lawyer to fight the suit.

"The lawyer I talked to explained that when you sue a minor, you can’t sue for monetary gain because they don’t have any money. But they can sue and deem her responsible and they have 10 years to come back on her," Braybrook said.

"She would have to declare bankruptcy at 18 and that is why we are going to have to fight this."

Braybrook said he thinks the lawsuit is ridiculous and could have ramifications for other people.

"No one is going to let their kid go babysitting if they can get sued," he said.

The Mills family could not be reached for comment.

A statement of defence has not been filed.

floyie@thejournal.canwest.com

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