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Mother of drowned boy loses Pennsylvania judgment

The mother of a boy who drowned in a Pennsylvania pool sought damages against the operators of a Lancaster apartment complex. The year-old wrongful death claim held CLK Multifamily Management LLC responsible for negligence, a charge that recently was addressed in a defendant-requested summary judgment.

A federal judge considered several allegations against the operators of the property where the boy died in the summer of 2010. The toddler was two years old when he drowned in the Sweetbriar Apartment Park pool. The boy and his mother were at the pool as guests of a relative who lived in the complex.

The plaintiff argued that the apartment complex was negligent for failing to post a lifeguard at the overcrowded swimming facility. The boy's death was also blamed on the lack of gate locks and failure to close the entire pool during a search for the boy.

The judge ruled on evidence of negligence and a punitive damages request. The apartment operators were granted a summary judgment.

The mother said her young son had been pushed into the pool by another child or children. The plaintiff complained the pool was overcrowded and unsafe without self-locking gates.

The apartment complex was not required by Pennsylvania law to employ a lifeguard, according to the judge's assessment. The pool was not a public facility.

Evidence did not exist to prove the pool was overcrowded or the boy was shoved into the water. An expert for the plaintiff admitted the boy might have fallen or jumped into the pool.

Other issues were dismissed because there was no evidence that showed locks or a fully closed pool would have made a significant difference. The judge pointed to the mother's admission that she was not watching her son for an indeterminate amount of time.

A plaintiff's attorney must be prepared to show evidence of negligence. Without it, a personal injury or wrongful death claim may be futile.

Source: pennrecord.com, "Defense granted summary judgment in swimming pool drowning death case," Jon Campisi, Jan. 30, 2013

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