Here in South Florida where swimming pools abound, responsible parents try to ensure that their children do not go into a pool area unattended. However, anyone who has raised or cared for children knows that they can be unbelievably clever and quick when the urge to roam takes over. Sometimes the results of these adventures are tragic.
That's the case for a couple whose young twin daughters got out of their Deerfield Beach apartment and ended up drowning in the apartment building's swimming pool. Last month, the 2-year-old girls took off as their parents slept. The couple returned home from their jobs at Target and were taking a nap when the girls got out of the apartment. They found their way to the pool area, where the gate was unlocked. Their bodies were discovered in the pool by a neighbor.
The Florida couple has filed a wrongful death suit against the Boca Raton-based owner of the property. The suit alleges that the latch on the gate that surrounded the pool had not been working properly for some time. Reportedly, following the tragic accident, a large chain was used to fasten the gate. A local news station that went to the pool to investigate early this month found the gate secured with a new latch.
The parents say that the large apartment complex, which has six pools, only had one with a properly functioning latch on the gate. The father noted that with a daycare facility next door to the complex, this is particularly concerning.
The plaintiffs and their attorney want to have an impact far beyond holding the property owners responsible for their young daughters' deaths. They say they have pledged to work to prevent the deaths of other children caused by improperly-protected pool areas.
According to their attorney, they intend to fight for a state law that will "require every community where children are housed to have self-latching gates that are operational." He says their goal is to get legislation introduced in the 2015 session of the Florida legislature that would mandate all property owners to have secured gates around pools.
While wrongful death suits can help victims' families feel some sense of justice on behalf of their loved ones, they can have a much larger impact. They can provide a strong financial incentive for the defendant and others to enact needed safety measures that can save potentially countless lives.
Source: CBS Miami, "Death Of Twin Toddlers Triggers Lawsuit" Joan Murray, May. 02, 2014