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Girl electrocuted at MGM National Harbor still can't speak or walk, lawyer says

Benedict Morelli, an attorney for Zynae Green, speaks to reporters. At left are Zynae's parents, Rydricka Rosier and Carlos Green, and attorneys David Sirotkin and Alexander Morelli. The family has sued MGM National Harbor after Zynae, then 6, was electrocuted at the casino.
Benedict Morelli, an attorney for Zynae Green, speaks to reporters. At left are Zynae's parents, Rydricka Rosier and Carlos Green, and attorneys David Sirotkin and Alexander Morelli. The family has sued MGM National Harbor after Zynae, then 6, was electrocuted at the casino. (Dan Morse / The Washington Post)

The little girl who was critically injured last summer after receiving an electric shock at MGM National Harbor still cannot speak or walk and is receiving 24-hour care in her home, her family’s lawyer said Thursday.

Zynae Green, then 6, was playing with her brother on a lighted handrail in June when she was jolted with 120 volts of electricity — 10 times the amount that officials say should have been flowing through the handrail.

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Her family’s lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said Zynae moved home from a rehabilitation facility about a month ago because there were no long-term care facilities close to their home.

“She is trapped in her body — she cannot speak or tell if she is in pain,” Morelli said in an interview before a scheduling hearing in Prince George’s County Circuit Court for a lawsuit the family has filed against MGM.

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The trial date was set for Feb. 10, 2020.

Zynae’s parents, Rydricka Rosier and Carlos Green, were in court for the hearing Thursday but said they were not ready to speak publicly. Zynae, who is now 7, also has a 16-year-old sister and a 5-year-old brother.

“They are struggling to maintain normalcy in their life,” Morelli said.

The FBI is assisting Prince George’s County police in a broadening investigation into the causes of the severe electrical shock received by a child swinging on a lighted handrail at MGM National Harbor this summer, county law enforcement officials said Thursday.

He said the family has moved to a new home, closer to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where Zynae’s doctors are located. She is receiving 24-hour care at home, which is more expensive than the rehabilitation facility, Morelli said. He declined to provide the cost to the family.

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Morelli, who has visited the family every two weeks for the past six months, said he has seen some improvements in Zynae, including that she can now track movements with her eyes and appears to understand when people are talking to her.

But he said that experts have told him that although Zynae will live, there will be minimal improvements going forward.

The lawsuit, filed in November, asserts the lighted handrail Zynae grasped had been defective for days and should have been repaired earlier.

The lawsuit also claims that video at the site shows that other visitors appear to have been jolted by the electrified handrail in the days before Zynae’s injury. Morelli said Thursday that he had recently watched the video himself and that it showed “two or three” other people being shocked by the handrail.

The family of a then-6-year-old girl who was electrocuted at the MGM National Harbor resort just outside Washington plans to sue.

In addition to MGM, Whiting-Turner, the general contractor for the project, and Rosendin Electric, which did the electrical contracting work, are named as defendants in a complaint that alleges the defendants urged construction workers “to finish their jobs quickly, at the expense of safety” to hasten the Maryland resort’s opening.

County police announced last year that they are being assisted by the FBI in their investigation of the incident — which includes determining whether corners were cut to speed the opening of the $1.4 billion project on the Potomac waterfront close to the District. Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said Wednesday that the department has no update on the investigation, which is ongoing.

MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said after the lawsuit was filed that the company was committed to working with the family’s representative to find a resolution to the “tragic accident.”

A Rosendin spokesman said then that it was “too early in the process to reach any conclusions” but that their thoughts and prayers were with Zynae’s family. Whiting-Turner did not respond to requests for comment on the complaint.

An independent engineer hired by the county ­released a report in November describing the wiring feeding the lighted handrail where the girl was injured in June as “terrible” and some of the “sloppiest work” he has ever seen.

The engineer’s findings confirmed a preliminary assessment obtained by The Washington Post that showed that an LED driver for the lights on the metal handrail was improperly installed, that the wiring used to power the lights was the wrong type, that the railing was installed at a shallow depth and that the insulation covering the wiring had worn away, bringing bare wiring into contact with the metal railing.

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