Baltimore Family Sues Apartment Complex and Pool Company Following Drowning Death

Article posted on:09/17/2008

As was reported in the Baltimore Sun last month, the family of a Baltimore County woman who drowned in a swimming pool in 2005 filed a $100 million lawsuit against the apartment complex and pool management company, alleging that unqualified lifeguards were on duty. The 23 year old victim, who was not a resident at the complex, was visiting a friend. According to the family, the victim asked and received permission to use the pool from a lifeguard on duty while she was visiting a friend at the complex. At some point, the victim, who could not swim was pushed or fell into the deep end of the pool where she drowned, unnoticed. As is set forth in the lawsuit, the victim's family alleges that the lifeguard was unqualified to monitor the pool and, further compounding the problem, was unable to view all areas of the pool from his chair. The family further alleges that the lifeguard was first notified about the victim being underwater by children swimming in the pool but struggled to find her because the water was too cloudy. The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants were negligent by failing to keep the pool clean and safe and for failing to provide two or more lifeguards during the busy time periods.

In addition to cases in which it is alleged the lifeguards were negligent and /or poorly trained, other tragic pool-related deaths occur every year.   In fact, recent statistics indicate that since 1985, more than 150 people have become entrapped in swimming pool drains, incidents that have led to at least 48 deaths nationwide. Sadly, each year, hundreds of children are killed or injured in pool drain-related incidents.  In many instances, the vacuum effect of the pool drain holds swimmers, especially children, to the bottom of a pool. Lawsuits have sought recovery on the grounds of negligence and reckless endangerment of life. In these types of cases, it has been necessary to retain the services of engineers and pool experts to investigate the true cause of said accidents.

 Contact with a pool drain by a child can result in suction that equates to roughly hundreds of pounds of pressure holding the child to the pool's bottom.  In one well documented case, four adult males were  unable to successfully pull a young girl off a drain on the pool bottom due to the extreme suction forces being generated by the pool drain.  In another case, a young boy died following the drain cap coming off of the drain and he being exposed to the suction forces of the drain itself. 

In 2007, Congress passed a Pool and Spa Safety Act to provide drain safety standards for dangerous drain suction for the nation's public and hotel pools.  These standards, however, need not be adopted by private pools.  More recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the governmental body charged with overseeing these drain failures, ruled that certain larger rounded drain covers adequately protect children against the forces of suction and that these covers should be installed in pools instead of the older versions.  Once again, however, it is unclear whether private pools will be retrofitted with these covers like the public or hotel pools.  

The lawyers at STSW have had success in litigating cases both against public and private pools owners as well as pool manufacturers in instances in which the victim has experienced injury as the result of a suction-type force holding him / her to the pool bottom.  We have also investigated a number of cases involving lifeguards failure to observed people in trouble under water in pools.   Because these injuries typically result in the loss of oxygen to the brain for a considerable period of time, victims often experience significant brain injuries and/or cognitive injuries that, in turn, result in the need for a lifetime of future care.  These costs can add up and be financially ruinous on a family charged with caring for this child.  If you or a loved one have been the victim of negligence relating to a pool-type injury, call our team for a free consultation or visit our website to set up your free consultation.   410-385-2225.