Thomas J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Consultant ::::
A young mother took her two children to a family leisure pool with water slides at an aquatic facility. According to her testimony, after taking a few successful slides down a large, fast waterslide, the woman asked the lifeguard on duty if she could go down the waterslide laying on her stomach. Although her testimony was that the lifeguard said she could go down the slide in this inappropriate and unsafe manner, the lifeguard on duty denied it. There were large, visible signs posted at the slide, which clearly stated that all riders should be seated in an upright position or laying down on their backs; all other riding positions were prohibited. Because the woman slid down the slide blindly, with her face towards the flume, she was unable to see when she would be discharged into the shallow water, and therefore could not properly prepare for impact by flexing her knees. Due to her blind and dangerous backward position, she severely injured her foot and ankle. This lawsuit went to trial and the jury deliberated for approximately ten minutes and rendered a verdict for the defense.
Lessons learned: Waterslides are designed for safety. With lifeguards positioned both at the top and the bottom of each slide, they are typically very safe. Most slide injuries are caused by rider misbehavior. Perhaps the most significant finding in this case was the woman signed a waiver prior to entering the waterpark releasing the aquatic facility of responsibility if she became injured during her use of the facility.
Verdict for the defense.
Thomas J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Consultant with DJS Associates, can be reached via email at experts@forensicDJS.com or via phone at 215-659-2010.