A birthday pool party turned tragic when a 5-year-old drowned, and while the wrongful death trial lasted eight days, it took a jury just 4.5 hours to reach a verdict.
In the end, the Jefferson County jury awarded the family of 5-year-old Chance Brooks $3.1 million, saying a defective pool caused his drowning.
On Thursday night, the jury found Louisville SW Hotel and LTS Hospitality Management liable for negligence. Those companies are the owner-operators of the Comfort Inn at 4444 Dixie Highway.
On March 15, 2014, Chance was attending his cousin’s birthday party here. Garry Adams, the family’s attorney, says there were at least 12 swimmers in the the pool and another 20 people on the pool deck including Brooks’ mother.
Adams says since the pool had more than five people in it, guidelines show there should have been a lifeguard, but there wasn’t.
“On this day, the pool was so cloudy that the main drains were not visible in the pool, and a 47-inch child completely disappeared after going underwater in a room full of people in only 4 feet 8 inches of water.”
Adams says when the mother didn’t see her son, she went back to the hotel room and thought he was there. Then, she came back to the pool area.
“Chance’s older brother was sliding along the side of the pool and found him by the touch of his foot as he stepped on his head,” Adams said. “My client, Charlestine Lindsey, then jumped into the water, tried to open her eyes in the water and couldn’t see anything and found her son by touch only.”
Court records say a surveillance camera with a live feed of the pool area was never viewed by the staff, and the pool’s clarity hadn’t been checked for several days.
The jury did find the mother partially at fault. When asked about that, Adams said, “While we acknowledge there was a lapse of supervision, there was not a lack of supervision.,” he said. “Mom was there. Mom was looking out for Chance and the other kids, and she missed him when he got out and walked for 14 seconds and jumped into the deep end of the pool.”
His mother is a nurse, and she performed CPR. Chance died 12 days later, never regaining consciousness.
The companies now have 30 days to appeal the verdict.
“Hopefully this verdict will send a message to pool operators throughout Kentucky that the safety of their patrons should take precedence over all else,” Adams said. “The Health Department’s Swimming Pool Code sets the minimum standards in Kentucky regarding the Operation, Supervision and Maintenance of public pools and should be complied with at all times. When the law is not followed and pools are not properly maintained and supervised, the result can be tragic.
“I strongly encourage all pool operators to make sure that whatever staff is tasked with the responsibility of maintaining and supervising their pools are properly trained. Properly trained operators and supervisors can reduce the risk of swimming pool drownings of children, which is the second leading cause of death of children between under 14 in the United States. Hopefully this verdict will increase the awareness in the aquatics community of the dangers that are lurking beneath the surface and encourage the necessary training to avoid them.”