On July 4, 2015, a family of five attended a backyard Fourth of July party at the home of the defendants. Approximately 40 to 50 people attended the party throughout the day. There were multiple activities simultaneously taking place, such as whiffle ball, trampoline, and swimming in the defendants’ in-ground pool, with a slide and diving
board. The defendant homeowners did not provide any rules for the pool, slide or diving board. They testified at deposition there was a standing rule that parents were responsible for watching their own children. The defendants did not hire a lifeguard or Water Watchers. They did not designate anyone with the specific duty of watching over the pool.
At approximately 7:00pm, a guest saw a body submerged at the bottom of the deep end of the pool. He dove in fully clothed and retrieved our client, an eight-year old boy. He was unconscious and his skin color was blue. Some guests immediately began performing CPR and 911 was called. The family witnessed the boy unconscious, motionless, and blue, not knowing if he was dead or alive.
EMS quickly arrived at the scene and our client was transported via helicopter to the Emergency Room and then the Intensive Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he stayed for over two weeks. He was then moved to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit where he stayed for an additional four months.
The defendants’ homeowners’ insurance company took a “No Pay” position. They hired an aquatics safety expert who argued that residential homeowners in New Jersey are not obligated to provide a safe swimming environment to invited pool guests and there is no duty to exercise reasonable care to protect their guests from drowning.
Michael Paglione engaged a pool safety expert, Dr. Thomas Griffiths. Dr. Griffiths opined that the homeowners hosting a pool party owe an inherent duty to exercise reasonable care to protect their pool guests. He argued that standards require homeowners to either hire a lifeguard or have designated Water Watchers because of the vast number of drownings of both children and adults at pool parties.
Our young client suffered anoxic brain injury with severe neurodevelopment impairment due to oxygen deprivation. Mr. Paglione engaged five additional experts to prove the Plaintiff’s damages; a Life Care Plan expert, a Vocational Rehabilitation specialist, an Economist, and two of the treating doctors from CHOP. A nonbinding Mercer County Arbitration Panel awarded the Plaintiff Twenty-Three Million ($23,000,000.00) dollars. The defendant homeowners filed a motion to dismiss the case right before trial. Marc Brotman, an Associate in our personal injury department who partnered with Mr. Paglione on this case, successfully defeated the motion and the matter settled for the homeowner’s insurance policy limits of $500,000.
Michael Paglione focuses his practice on a variety of personal injury matters including traumatic brain injuries. To contact Michael Paglione please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Marc Brotman focuses his practice primarily on personal injury matters including nursing home negligence. To contact Marc please email him at email@example.com or call (609) 275-0400 to reach either attorney.