Reckless Construction of Pool Causes Child's Death and Leads to Manslaughter Charges

Article posted on:07/23/2008

As was reported in the New York Times yesterday, the president of a swimming pool company was charged with second-degree manslaughter following an accident last year in which a 6 year old boy drowned in Connecticut after his arm became trapped in the pool's suction drain. Police have charged the builder with recklessly causing the death of the boy by failing to ensure that his company installed mandated safety devices in the pool that would have prevented the death. According to the accident investigation, the boy drowned after his arm became stuck in an intake valve in the deep end of an in-ground pool. The boy's parents desperately attempted to free their son's arm from the drain but were unsuccessful due to the strong suction of the pump. Ultimately, the boy's mother ran and shut off power to the house (including the drain pump) and they were able to to free their son and perform CPR, but it was too late. The lawsuit alleges that the pool fell well short of the minimum safety standards for pools. C

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.  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.