I took note of a story on CNN last week, "Girl whose disembowelment led to pool legislation dies," A six year old girl died in Omaha after a rare surgery that doctors hoped would repair damage she sustained after having her intestines sucked out by a swimming pool drain last June. As I read through the article I was shocked to see the name of the swimming pool equipment manufacturer, Sta-Rite Industries. Surely not.
In John Edwards book Four Trials, the last trial he writes about took place in 1996. He represented the family of a young girl who suffered similar injuries. Sta-Rite was the company involved there too. (See "Athwart Torts," by Ed Martin from the Jan. 2006 Business North Carolina which challenges the claim that tort reform is needed, referencing this case as an example.)
Twelve years later we are still reading about the same kind of accident involving the same equipment? Sta-Rite says it is a matter of installation and maintenance. The CNN story ends with this paragraph:
In December, President George W. Bush signed The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act of 2007, according to SafeKids.net. The legislation provides incentives for states to adopt comprehensive pool safety laws that will protect children from life-threatening injuries and deaths from potentially dangerous pool and spa drains.
Virginia Graeme Baker was the granddaughter of former Secretary of State Jim Baker. She drowned at the age of 7 after being trapped underwater by a suction drain.
One provision of the law is:
Prohibit the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that do not meet anti-entrapment safety standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The legislation includes a directive for the CPSC to establish a safety standard for anti-entrapment drain covers. This would ensure that all drain covers available in the marketplace would conform to certain safety criteria.
Edwards found cases of children being severely injured or killed due to drain suction going back to 1981. And it has taken this long to do something on a national level? Edwards won his suit and other cases have likely been settled. Apparently it has taken over 25 years of known injuries due to pool drains to persuade the federal government
Fellow parents, summer will be upon us soon and public pools will be opening. Since the government does not seem to be moving very quickly on this and the manufacturer doesn't seem to have changed much it will be our responsibility to locate the drains in pools, spas, etc. and check EVERY SINGLE TIME to make sure the drain covers are in place and secured. Check them halfway through your stay at the pool. Check them when you leave. Talk to the pool manager about maintenance.
It amazes me that these deaths and injuries continue to occur.