Aquatic Risk Management

Fitness Club Settles Quickly with Drowning Victim’s Family

Fitness clubs and hotels are often exempt from the lifeguard requirement. Regardless, these businesses still need to protect and safeguard their guests, especially those swimming in their pools, as the swimming pool is the most hazardous area within the confines of the building. Although these swimming pools are typically “Swim at Your Own Risk,” they cannot be ignored by staff, owners, and operators. When lifeguards are not employed by fitness clubs, frequent patrols of the pools should take place, and the staff should be trained to handle emergencies.

This lawsuit involved a male senior citizen who was swimming laps. No one in the swimming pool saw him struggle, but other swimmers did observe him on the bottom of the pool for an unknown period of time. Fitness club members recovered the victim from the pool and provided resuscitation efforts, but the victim died. When staff was finally summoned to assist in an effort to save the man, the employee was at a loss for what to do and how to help. Not surprisingly, an emergency action plan was not established and not practiced by staff. In this particular case, the only safety information provided to employees was for employee safety, not patron safety. No one on staff had any minimal training in water safety. Most egregiously, however, was the fact that no one was delegated to be in charge of the swimming pool, and no one employed by the club ever checked on the pool except for rare instances when they were required to conduct a walk through. Making matters worse, the swimming pool was remotely located from the rest of the facility making it more difficult for staff and members to casually observe it.

The case settled quickly with a substantial settlement in favor of the plaintiff’s family.

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