Swimming pool expert witness advises on death at resort swimming pool

Kristin Casler

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

Swimming pool expert witnessA swimming pool expert witness advises on a case involving a resort guest who suffered a cardiac event while swimming in a hotel pool. The decedent slid under water. Security personnel responded and attempted to resuscitate the man, but he died. The cause of death was listed as a drowning.

The decedent’s family alleges the resort was negligent for failing to have a lifeguard on duty, not adequately warning about the lack of a lifeguard and failing to have an AED on site. If the hotel had a lifeguard or an AED, the decedent would have been pulled from the pool and survived, the family asserts.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Was the hotel required to have a lifeguard on duty?
  • 2. Was its failure to do so a violation of the standard of care?
  • 3. Would the outcome have been different if a lifeguard had been present?

Expert Witness Response

I am familiar with hotel and condominium swimming pools in this area. I inspected the site of the incident, and based on my review of the documents provided, my knowledge of swimming pool operations in the area and the site inspection, I conclude:

• The resort was not responsible for the unfortunate death. According to plaintiffs, he suffered an impairment and/or cardiac arrest that required immediate emergency medical and physical care. This incident occurred in the swimming pool, and because it occurred in the water, the cause of death was listed as drowning. However, his pre-existing medical conditions (hypertension and coronary artery occlusion) and the physical stress of swimming in the pool after being in the Jacuzzi may have been contributing factors to the submersion event.
• Security officers followed protocols and responded to the swimming pool area as soon as they were aware of the incident. They assisted in resuscitation efforts begun by bystanders.
• Regarding the absence of an automated external defibrillator (AED), another expert states that the decedent’s heart rhythm was asystole when he was removed from the pool. Automated external defibrillators are programmed to deliver electrical shock to patients whose cardiac rhythm can be converted to a sinus rhythm. AEDs will not advise a shock for a patient who is in asystole, therefore, even if an AED had been available in this case, it is doubtful that delivering a shock would have been advised.
• There is no evidence that the swimming pool at the resort was operated and maintained in an unsafe manner, nor is there any evidence to support plaintiffs’ claim that this alleged breach caused the death.
• The resort adequately warned that there was no lifeguard on duty on the sign prominently posted near the pool.
• It is my opinion that the swimming pool at the resort was not unsafe, dangerous or defective on the date of the death.
• No hotel, condominium or apartment swimming pool in the region that I am aware of is staffed by professional lifeguards.

The expert is a municipal water safety administrator in charge of regional lifeguard services for 30 years.

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