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In this case, Aquatics Expert, Maria Bella, was retained by defense counsel to investigate a drowning incident that occurred at a gated apartment pool.

Defense Verdict: Boy Drowned from Lack of Supervision

In this tragic incident, a two year old boy drowned at a gated pool in an apartment complex. The mother of the deceased brought suit against the apartment complex based on theories of premises liability. Plaintiff’s expert in aquatics attributed the child’s drowning to a defective gate, an overcrowded pool, and the lack of a lifeguard.

Maria Bella was retained by defense counsel to address aquatics safety aspects of the case. Ms. Bella established that any claims of a defective gate were immaterial since the purpose of the gate was to keep children out of the pool area and the plaintiff had already entered the pool area with her children. She also testified that the pool met all municipal codes relevant to the incident. Concerning claims of overcrowding, Ms. Bella was able to establish pool occupants at around 40 based on eyewitness testimony, which is approximately 25% of the pool capacity. (Ms. Bella demonstrated why the maximum capacity was 160.) Moreover, Ms. Bella provided clarification that there was no need for a lifeguard, since it was not required by municipal codes or the aquatic industry standard of care for this type of facility.

Result: The jury found that the boy drowned from a lack of supervision and the apartment complex was not negligent.

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Featured Expert

Maria Bella, AFOIT, CPOI, LGI

Bella has been actively involved in the aquatics industry for over 30 years. She has managed numerous swimming facilities as well as other sporting venues. She regularly educates pool operators on industry standards and contributes to the ongoing development of model aquatic safety codes. Bella is a Lifeguard Instructor and 1 of only 4 Aquatic Facility Operator Instructor Trainers in the United States. She has been conducting forensic investigations for over 5 years and has been qualified in federal and state courts. Bella is an avid exercise enthusiast and certified master scuba diver.