Swimmer Drowns in Guarded Pool

Case Analysis: Plaintiff, a middle-aged healthy, fit male (experienced swimmer), swam across the deep end of a large, local outdoor pool more than once with two teenage companions.  He became distressed while swimming in the deep water.  His younger companions stated that he complained of cramps and struggled on the surface prior to submerging to the bottom of the eight-foot-deep section of the pool.

Expert Analysis: A safety plan by the city pool was submitted to the State Department of Health stating that four lifeguards would always be on duty at pool side.  In addition to only having three guards on duty, no lifeguard was positioned at the deep end of the pool where the plaintiff had difficulties.  Making matters worse, none of the three lifeguards on-duty, providing patron surveillance, were positioned properly; all were seated in low plastic deck chairs instead of the tall, elevated lifeguard stations that were provided for the lifeguards.

Expert testimony, as well as a written investigative report authored by the State’s Department of Health found numerous instances of negligence on the part of the defendants.  Not only were the lifeguards out of position and not scanning properly when they failed to detect a distressed victim, but the aquatic facility and its management failed to adequately screen, train and supervise the lifeguards who they hired.  Management was cited for not supervising and training the lifeguards regularly to ensure that lifeguards scanned properly, positioned themselves properly, rotated regularly, and provided timely and effective resuscitation efforts as lifeguards should.  Additionally, they did not require in-service training for their lifeguards and did not conduct rescue drills.  As a result of the lack of oversight and control of the facility, the plaintiff was not noticed, rescued or resuscitated in a timely fashion.

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