Jury Rules Man Who Died in Rhino Construction Site at Oregon Zoo Was More at Fault for His Death Than Metro

The verdict closes a bleak and bizarre three-year case.

On Friday, a jury ruled that a man who was found dead in a rhino habitat construction site at the Oregon Zoo in 2019 was more at fault for his death than Metro, the agency that owns and operates the zoo.

During the 10-day trial, Metro’s attorneys argued that Carl Stanley Ross Sr. died from alcoholism, and that the rhino pit was not the cause of death. Ross had gone to the zoo for a George Clinton concert but never left the premises.

Michael Fuller, the attorney representing Ross’ family, argued that Metro and the construction company building the rhino pit did not take necessary precautions to protect patrons of the zoo from the site, and also that the zoo failed to investigate the disappearance of Ross promptly and was therefore at fault for his death.

“They found the zoo was negligent, but not more negligent than Mr. Ross,” Fuller tells WW. “We respect the jury’s verdict. It was a hard-fought case.”

In the verdict form, the jury assigned fault.

It attributed 37.5% of the fault to Metro, and 62.5% of the fault to the 62-year-old Ross. It ruled both parties were negligent, and that both parties’ negligence contributed to Ross’ death.

The trial resulted in no monetary payouts.