FORT MYERS, FL.- Sawyer Law Firm LLC Attorney J.P. Sawyer was recently involved in the settlement of a lawsuit related to the drowning death of a 3-year-old child at a south Florida resort. The young girl was visiting the resort with her grandparents. Shortly after arriving at the resort, the child suddenly went missing. The child was ultimately found at the bottom of the resort pool and attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.
The complaint which was filed in the case alleged that the resort operator improperly maintained the pool area by failing to enclose it with a fence and self-closing gate. Sawyer says that the resort operator’s main defense was to attack the grandparents for “lack of supervision”. “We were able to totally discredit that argument with statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Sawyer said. “The research shows that the great majority of child drowning victims are being supervised by both parents at the time of the incident and that in 75% of the cases the child is was missing for five minutes or less.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents use “touch supervision” where the child is constantly within reach. Sawyer says “that is exactly what these grandparents were doing in this case – it happened within a matter of seconds – that is why a fence with a self-closing gate is such an important aspect of pool safety”. The resort operator maintained that a fence and gate were not required. “We sent our investigator to every resort on the same beach like this one and photographed numerous fenced pools with self-closing gates – many of which were operated by this same company,” Sawyer said. “After we showed those photos to the president of the company at his deposition, we did not hear that argument again”.
The case was resolved for a confidential amount immediately prior to trial. Sawyer says that “these types of cases are important to raise pool safety awareness and force owners to implement simple safety features”. Statistics show that in 2007, of all children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning. Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
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