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Establishing Liability in Florida Swimming Pool Accidents

Florida is unique in that parts of the state enjoy over 170 days of sunshine each year. As a result, swimming pools are common across the state. However, swimming pools present serious dangers to children, and those who own or operate swimming pools must take precautions to guard against accident drownings.

Florida swimming pool deaths can occur either at a public or private pool. In either event, pool owners have a responsibly to install specific safety measures and, in some cases, to provide adequate supervision. A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court discusses a tragic death that occurred at a government-run swimming pool.

The Facts

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff’s daughter was on a field trip to a water park that was run by the local parks and recreation department. Prior to allowing her daughter to go on the trip, the plaintiff contacted the playground coordinator at the park, explaining that her daughter does not know how to swim. The coordinator assured the plaintiff that her daughter would be assessed before she would be allowed into the deeper areas of the pool. However, the young girl tragically drowned while department staff members were changing in the locker room.

The plaintiff filed a wrongful death case against the parks and recreation department (“the department”), claiming that its negligence resulted in her daughter’s death. In response, the department argued that it was immune from liability because it was a government entity.

The court rejected the department’s claim of immunity, allowing the plaintiff’s case to proceed toward trial. The court explained that while government agencies are entitled to immunity when the act or omission involved is discretionary, that is not the case when an injury is the result of a ministerial act. A ministerial, or proprietary, act is one that does not require the judgment of a government employee and should be carried out in a particular manner.

The court explained that supervising children who are on a field trip, including at least one child who the department knew could not swim, was a ministerial act. Thus, the court explained that by failing to provide supervision, the department’s omission involved a ministerial act. Thus, the court held that governmental immunity did not attach, and the plaintiff’s case should proceed towards trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured at a Public Pool?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured at a public pool, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience assisting injury victims and their families in obtaining full and fair compensation for the injuries they have sustained. We represent clients across South Florida, including in Miami, Homestead, and Naples. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-448-8585. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Explains the Limits on Circumstantial Evidence in Recent Car Accident Lawsuit, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 27, 2018.

Can a Court Exclude Relevant Evidence from a Florida Personal Injury Trial?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 7, 2019.

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