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Manchester settles with family over school drowning


Posted On behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Feb 21, 2014 in Premises Liability

Parents in Connecticut expect that our schools will be safe; that children will be able to go about their days without having to be hypervigilant about their safety. There are, of course, risks associated with going into a public building, but it is that building owner's responsibility to protect against dangerous situations. Failing to do so could lead to a fatal accident and a wrongful death lawsuit.

It almost got to a wrongful death lawsuit for the Manchester family whose 14-year-old son drowned in the Manchester High School pool, but the family and the city recently settled out of court for $1.7 million. Not only was this family able to hold the city liable for its poor safety planning, but it also spurred a new law that should improve safety at school pools.

The teenage boy was in a swimming class at the high school when he drowned. Though it is not entirely clear where the teacher was during the class or what he or she was doing in the lead up to this fatal accident, reports indicate that there was no lifeguard on duty. Had the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, they planned to argue that the school was negligent in not providing a lifeguard.

Had this tragic accident happened today, the school would not only have been negligent, but it would have been in violation of the law. According to a new law, all schools need to have someone who is either a lifeguard or Red Cross certified watching the pool in addition to the teacher. Moreover, schools need to create plans for safer swimming experiences.

Source: NBC Connecticut, "Family of School Drowning Victim Reaches Settlement," Feb. 17, 2014