On August 5, 1983, a 26-year-old- police officer was a guest at a swim club. While there he dove from a 3-meter board located at the diving tank. He struck his head on the sloped bottom of the tank, sustaining multiple cervical injuries.
An action was brought against the landowner and manager of the swim club, alleging that the design of the diving tank violated the minimum standards set by the National Swimming Pool Institute. Plaintiff contended that the diving tank had a relatively small bottom that sloped upward toward shallow water without warning. Plaintiff estimated that when he dove from the 3-meter board he landed in less than five feet of water.
Plaintiff also named in the action the maker of the pool, claiming that the pool was defectively designed and manufactured. The company or companies that maintained the pool were also alleged to be negligent due to inaccurate or mismarked depth markers.
Plaintiff further alleged that the supplier of the diving board should have warned that the diving board should not have been installed or used in this type of diving pool.
Multiple fractures of the C-7 vertebra and widening of the facet joint on the left side at C-5-C-6 rendering him a C-5 incomplete quadriplegic. Plaintiff had a remarkable recovery, but his hand functions show permanent impairment, particularly fine hand movements. He also has a right-side limp. He was permanently disabled from his police employment. Alleged loss of wages were between $1,400,000 and $1,900,000 and medical expenses were in excess of $73,000.
A settlement was reached for $2,050,000. Contributions from the defendants were: $1,375,000 from the swim club; $350,000 from the diving board supplier; $200,000 from one maintainer of the pool (Mountain Lake Pool and Patio); $75,000 from the other maintainer of the pool (Bumpy Pools, Inc.); $50,000 from the designer and builder of the pool.
Plaintiff’s Expert Witnesses:
George Lawniczak, aquatic safety, and design, Mt. Charlestown, Nev.; Andrew Verzilli, economist, Philadelphia, Penn.
Michael F. Barrett of Daniels, Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Barrett, Ltd., Philadelphia, Penn.
Schuck v. Maple Manor Swim Club, Inc., (Philadelphia Cty. Ct. of Common Please, June 1990).
Plaintiff’s attorney, Michael F. Barrett, comments that the diving tank had a novel configuration in that its slope was such that a well-executed dive could result in the diver striking the side. Also, the depth markings for the water were grossly inaccurate. Two factors that may have been important in reaching the settlement were (1) plaintiff had a claim for punitive damages, and (2) prior to the accident, plaintiff had been an active, robust, Philadelphia police officer.