Resort Guest is Killed by Hot Tub

    Hotel Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Virginia and involves the guest of an all-inclusive resort with no prior medical history who was found dead in an outdoor hot tub located within a water park on the resort property. The hot tub had been under the supervision of a lifeguard, who claims that he saw the man remain in the hot tub for an extended period of time before appearing to lose consciousness, at which point the lifeguard alerted the resort’s medical team. The man was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors registered a highly elevated body temperature in spite of the fact that the man had been out of the hot tub for some time. The attending physicians believe that his temperature may have been in excess of 109 degrees while in the tub. The plaintiffs allege that the hot tub should not have been able to produce water hot enough to kill one of its users, and that it was negligently designed.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Do you have experience with building and maintenance regulations as it relates to water temperature?
    • 2. What sort of mechanisms could have been in place to prevent an event such as the one described in this case from occurring?
    • 3. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above? If so, please explain.
    • 4. Please tell us why you're qualified to serve as an expert reviewer of this case.

    Expert Witness Response E-004874

    I have experience with overheating of water causing injury. From an engineering perspective, I am familiar with building codes that would typically prevent excessive water heating, though I don’t believe there are any specifics as they relate to maximum temperature of water in this type of tub. Nevertheless, I can definitely address whether the water was too hot for use (and have in similar situations in the past). For a tub like this, there should be a manufacturer’s setting that instructs at what temperatures the tub should be kept to prevent scalding, and this takes into account the heat produced by the jet friction (although this heat is VERY minimal if existent at all). Given my experience with hot water cases, building codes and standards, and mechanical engineering, I feel that this case is right in my area of expertise.

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