Man Paralyzed After Diving Into Sports Pool

swimming pool expert witness

This case involves a man who was invited by a friend to go for a swim in a pool owned by two homeowners who the friend knew. The man entered the south shallow end of the pool through full-width stairs and felt the slope of the bottom giving downward toward the north end of the pool. There were not any stairs at the other end of the pool, but there was a ladder which seemed to be a “deep end” ladder at the other end. The man thought that the pool had a regular shallow end/deep end configuration. The man got out of the shallow end and walked toward the other end of the pool and dove into the north end. The north end of the pool was actually shallow and was only 3½ feet deep. The pool actually had two shallow ends and a deep middle. The water depth in the north and south ends of the pool was less than 3 feet and the depth in the middle was 5 feet 7 inches. The man hit his head and suffered a severe spinal injury. His injury left him an incomplete quadriplegic who was confined to a wheelchair, requiring regular neuromuscular and functional electrical stimulation appointments. The man brought a product liability lawsuit against the installer of the pool claiming that the design of the swimming pool was dangerous and caused his paralysis.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Is a sports pool with two shallow ends and one deep end unreasonably dangerous for swimmers?

Expert Witness Response

Pools like the one in this case are usually referred to as “sports pools.” A sports pool has two shallow ends and a deeper section in the middle of the pool. These pools are called sports pools because many people use them for playing water sports such as volleyball, basketball, and skip ball. The two shallow ends of a sports pool are usually shallow enough to stand waist deep in and the deepest part is in the middle so that people playing sports don’t have to worry about not being able to swim or the water being too deep to stand in while they are playing a game. What makes the pool in this case very unusual and dangerous is that it had no ladder in the deepest part of the pool. Also, the pool was designed with no steps and handrails at the north end which probably could have prevented the accident in this case. The installer of the pool is probably liable for the man’s injury in this case because they incorporated a deceptive design by putting a classic “deep end” ladder at the north end which should have been placed in the deepest part of the pool, which is the middle. Since the pool had broad steps on the south end (which are typically associated with the normal deed end/shallow end pool), the installer created a pool with an “optical illusion” where the pool’s depth was basically impossible to judge. In order for the installer of the pool to not be liable for the man’s injury in this case, they would have had to mandate that the homeowner use warning signs at the pool to warn swimmers about the danger of diving into the pool. Also, the installer could have designed the pool with more normal dimensions such as with the north and south ends having a water depth of 3.6′ and with a water depth of 4′ in the middle.


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