POOL DROWNING / SUCTION ENTRAPMENT CASES
Florida is no stranger to pool drownings and in recent years, the state and federal legislatures have passed laws requiring greater safety in and around pools, including laws governing public pools, fence requirements, pool safety gates and locking mechanisms, and alarms. Pool and equipment design has changed and even with regard to the construction of backyard pools, the increased awareness regarding suction entrapment and pool drownings has brought about positive, life-saving change in Florida and throughout the United States.
Notable Suction Entrapment / Drowning Cases Handled by Jeannete Lewis
Estate of CH v. XYZ International Resort – Confidential 7 figure settlement
A young tourist drowned after being sucked head-first into a large intake pipe at the bottom of a lagoon at the resort in which he and his family were staying. The pipe was one that fed several waterfalls and although situated inside a vault area, part of the grate that covered the vault was being cleaned and had not yet been put back into place. There were no warning signs and the lagoon was not closed during the cleaning process. After the young boy became trapped, his brother called for help but no one associated with the resort knew what to do. It took hours to dislodge the deceased young man and all his mother could do was sit there and wait. Suit was brought in the Southern District of Florida. A significant part of the litigation surrounded the forum selection and choice of law clauses that were signed by the young man’s mother upon check in at the resort. After successfully defeating defense arguments that such clauses required dismissal of the lawsuit in Florida, a confidential pre-trial settlement was reached.
Estate of L.O. v. XYZ Pool Pump Company – $3.75 Million Settlement (M.D. Florida)
A Tampa resident owned a home in Mexico whereat he had an inground pool and spa built by Mexican based companies, and outfitted with American-manufactured pool pumps. The design consisting of multiple pumps was overkill, but nonetheless the home was rented for six months to L.O.’s family. L.O. was a mere 5 years of age and an excellent swimmer. Notwithstanding that fact, she became entrapped at the bottom of the spa by one of the suction inlets. It took L.O.’s mom several minutes to dislodge her and break the vacuum that so strongly held L.O. underwater. Suit was brought against the uninsured homeowner and the pool pump manufacturer. A complicating feature of the litigation was a motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens that was filed, arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed and litigated in Mexico where any damages that might be awarded would be nominal and the family’s ability to state a cause of action questionable at best. A settlement was reached with all defendants before the motion was ruled upon by the court.