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  1. #1
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    CT - Zachary Cohn, 6, drowned in swimming pool, Greenwich, 26 July 2007

    "GREENWICH, Conn. - The head of a Connecticut pool company was charged with manslaughter yesterday in connection with last year's drowning death of a 6-year-old student at Rye Country Day School who was trapped underwater when his arm was sucked into the family's pool drain."

    http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a.../1205/NEWS0408

  2. #2
    Sad story. People shouldn't have to go to their basements for the emergency shut off on the pool drain systems, especially on a pool built after 2005.

  3. #3
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    It's not clear in the news article if the child was being supervised while in the pool. I can understand the safety aspect as far as the builder being responsible, but was he being supervised. IMO 6 years old is too young to be swimming without an adult present. Either way it's a tragic loss for this family.
    ~ Friends are kisses blown to us by angels. ~

  4. #4
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    This seems like a civil matter to me.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixies View Post
    This seems like a civil matter to me.
    I have to agree. They'll have to prove criminal negligence, which is hard to establish.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blondieskatz View Post
    It's not clear in the news article if the child was being supervised while in the pool. I can understand the safety aspect as far as the builder being responsible, but was he being supervised. IMO 6 years old is too young to be swimming without an adult present. Either way it's a tragic loss for this family.
    I read some of the comments associated with the article and it seems that even if he had been supervised (which we don't know), they would have been unable to free him from the suction. One poster said that there was a similar situation where a girl's arm was stuck and six men pulling on her could not free her. She drowned. The only way to save the boy was to release the suction, and if it was not working properly there would be no way to save him. I'm not sure what kind of pool this was either. My neighbor has an above ground pool that I took care of last week. There was a power switch right next to the pool that had to be turned off in order to clean the basket that collected debris. I didn't realize the power had to be turned off first, and I was pulling and pulling on that basket until I realized the suction was holding it down. Once I turned it off the basket popped right out. Same concept as the boy. Evidently there was something wrong with the shutoff thingy.

  7. #7
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    The builder was negligence in the installation and construction of the pool.

    This negligence "lead to the direct" death of a child.

    A shut off safety valve is not a choice, not an option, not an "opps" it is mandatory, and if not installed properly or not at all, then it can and will lead to death.

    So manslaughter and criminal negligence is a correct charge.

    Manslaughter - his conduct was reckless,a wanton disregard for the known dangers of a particular situation.

    I take it this man was not an average person who built and installed a pool, but a man who held himself out as capable and competent.

    He cannot claim that he did not know that a missing or incorrectly installed safety value would not lead to a person death. He installs and build pools.

    The pool construction did not meet safety codes for pool safety.

    But I put money on the fact that this family trusted this man to install the pool correctly with the required safety device.

    Unfortunately, when their child died, then they found out the builder did not install safety valve.

    It would be similar to having a house built. You get a permit, you hire reputable contractors, who in the end decided to save themselves money by cutting corners.

    The ceiling collapses, it kills your husband and child. Would that be a civil matter. The answer is no, it is criminal negligence. The builders knew or should have known that cutting corners will lead to the ceiling collapsing.


  8. #8
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    What a sad story.

  9. #9
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    How is an improperly installed safety valve on a pool going to lead to the death of a 6 year old child if the child is being supervised? Even IF the child's hand was stuck in the vent the child would not have drowned if he/she was being supervised.

    I find it ridiculous that a business owner is facing 10 years in prison for an allegedly improperly installed pool, which to my mind even if WAS improperly installed and even if he did KNOW FOR A FACT it was improperly installed it still cannot be considered the direct cause of death.

    IMO the direct cause of death is the parents failing to supervise their child in their pool.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medea View Post
    How is an improperly installed safety valve on a pool going to lead to the death of a 6 year old child if the child is being supervised? Even IF the child's hand was stuck in the vent the child would not have drowned if he/she was being supervised.

    I find it ridiculous that a business owner is facing 10 years in prison for an allegedly improperly installed pool, which to my mind even if WAS improperly installed and even if he did KNOW FOR A FACT it was improperly installed it still cannot be considered the direct cause of death.

    IMO the direct cause of death is the parents failing to supervise their child in their pool.

    Even if his mom was in the pool with him supervising, he might have been underwater and become stuck to the suction and unable to come up for air. It just sounds so horrible. I can't imagine what a parent would do to try to get air to their drowning child stuck to suction under water. AFter reading Cyberlaw's post above, I think I agree. This is assuming that this safety feature is a mandatory requirement for pools, and not just something new. (I don't know much about how pools are set up). If the turn off switch was in the basement or somewhere difficult to get to quickly then it could have been too late before they got to it.


  11. #11
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    A similar event unfortunately happened in my city some years ago.

    Again, the safety valve was either defective or missing.

    A girls' hair got caught in the mechanism in a public pool. Despite the efforts of many people to get her out, they could not.

    Not only was the pool supervised, lifeguards were on duty, kids taking swimming lessons, other people using the pool, parents, the child died.

    The suction is beyond "just pulling out the child", you cannot just pull out the child with the force of the suction and the constant suction. You would literally have to "rip" the body part, or hair from the swimmer.

    One of the reasons why when our oldest was taking swimming in school, the lifeguards "personally" ensured all girls wore swimming caps. All the girls lined up and were "checked" to ensure that their hair was under the caps.

    This is negligence, pure and simple. BTW, a safety value is mandatory in the building code. If I remember correctly, the code was changed in 2004 and the pool was installed in 2005

    How about this: You take your car in to the dealership to have the breaks repaired or changed. Well, you would assume since it is the dealership, they hire educated people, check the work to ensure it is safe.

    But they cut corners, failed to check the work to ensure that is is safe, hired people at "cut rate" to save money.

    Then you drive the car, you realize the breaks do not work. Your kids are injured, you are in a Coma, and your hubby is dead.

    That is not a civil action it is criminal negligence.

  12. #12
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    If that happened I wouldn't sue the CEO of the auto company.

    Where is the proof that the owner knew the safety value wasn't installed? Where is the proof he could have reasonably forseen that if he knew it wasn't installed, that it would lead to death? Where is the evidence that supports the idea that no lack of supervision contributed to the child's death?

    Who inspects and approves new construction? Why not throw in a law suit for the State of Connecticut for failing to ensure the pool was up to code? What's the difference if you are looking to find someone else responsible? Maybe its a civil rights violation as well?

    If they wanted to charge him with criminal negligence that might be one thing, but MANSLAUGHTER? It's ridiculous, and in fact its an affront to people whose family members are actual homicide victims.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medea View Post
    If that happened I wouldn't sue the CEO of the auto company.

    But the test is, recklessness. Would the owner of the auto company "foresee" that the lack of experienced workers, the lack of safety checks, the lack of skill, could "reasonably" been known by a reasonable person to lead to breaks that are not installed properly leading to death. That could be seen as "depraved" indifference to human life. Would a reasonable person know that this could lead to the death of your family. The answer to that is Yes.

    Then when the person is found guilty, then you can sue. Which by the way could take years, in a civil trial.

    Where is the proof that the owner knew the safety value wasn't installed?

    If the people he hired to "build" the pool, were not trained, were not versed in pool safety, and were not versed in the building code for proper safety value instruction and the pool was not inspected by the company to ensure that it meet all safety requirements, then the owner of the company is responsible for his employees. There has to be a person who has experience, knowledge and training in the proper installation of pools to ensure the job was correctly done and meet all safety requirements.

    Where is the proof he could have reasonably forseen that if he knew it wasn't installed, that it would lead to death?

    Easy, he was the owner, he was responsible, it was his responsibility that "his product" was safe to use, his people were competent, that corners were not cut, that building code were in place and the pool was built to code. That means he or someone with knowledge and experience were required to ensure that the pool was built correctly and was safe.

    There again, is a reason why it is included in the building code. Building codes ensure "minimum" standards in building and construction safety.

    Where is the evidence that supports the idea that no lack of supervision contributed to the child's death?

    Because in the instance of "suction" no amount of "human strength" could have pulled the child out. You would "literally" have to detach the limb from the suction to get the child out. No amount of supervision could have overcome a "defect" in construction and the lack of a "safety valve"
    ( it is called a safety valve for a reason)

    Who inspects and approves new construction?

    Sorry cannot comment on that one, as I do not live in this state.

    But, I can tell you that the plans are approved by the building department. They would ensure all the plans meet building and safety requirements. They would approve the plans. The plans are "required" to be built as approved. But they "don't micro manage the installation, as that is the "hired" contractors job to do. There are only "certain" aspects of construction that may be checked. Again, I do not live in this state or even the USA. But am speaking from my knowledge of building permits

    Why not throw in a law suit for the State of Connecticut for failing to ensure the pool was up to code?

    Conn. did not build the pool, they approved the plans as submitted to them. Again, they do not go on site to "ensure" the builder follows the plans. The builder is required to build to code.


    What's the difference if you are looking to find someone else responsible? Maybe its a civil rights violation as well?

    Again, cannot comment on that, as I do not live in the states.

    If they wanted to charge him with criminal negligence that might be one thing, but MANSLAUGHTER? It's ridiculous, and in fact its an affront to people whose family members are actual homicide victims.
    Pardon me, a person dies. They both died at the "hands" and responsibility of another person. Be it they are directly killed by another person(murder) or dies as a result of another person actions. The end result is that they both died. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder.


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medea View Post
    Where is the proof that the owner knew the safety value wasn't installed? Where is the proof he could have reasonably forseen that if he knew it wasn't installed, that it would lead to death?
    This type of accident due to suction has resulted in dozens of deaths over the last twenty years or more. The dangers are well known and established.

    Where is the evidence that supports the idea that no lack of supervision contributed to the child's death?
    No level of supervision can prevent these deaths.For example, there was a death in my former town about ten years ago in the wading pool--a small child sat down in the water and her butt was stuck to the drain by the suction. She didn't drown, her head was above water. The force involved essentially disembowelled her. Her mother was within arm's length of the child and frantically trying to release her from the suction to no avail.

    Teenagers and adults have also drowned due to suction accidents.

    Who inspects and approves new construction? Why not throw in a law suit for the State of Connecticut for failing to ensure the pool was up to code?
    In my state, the building plans are approved by the building department. For most of the construction there is no inspection--the builder signs a statement saying that the project was completed as per the plans submitted. I don't know how the state of Connecticut handles site inspections.

    What's the difference if you are looking to find someone else responsible? Maybe its a civil rights violation as well?
    It might be if the plaintiffs are of colour or a certain religion and can prove that when this particular builder constructed similar pools for people outside that minority that they exercised due diligence for the other people but not in the case of this plaintiff.

    If they wanted to charge him with criminal negligence that might be one thing, but MANSLAUGHTER? It's ridiculous, and in fact its an affront to people whose family members are actual homicide victims.
    Is that child less dead because the person responsible wears a suit and tie?

    I'm old enough to remember the outrage and backlash following the revelations that Ford Pinto cars were at particularly high risk for exploding gas tanks in rear end collisions because Ford didn't want to spend an extra $11/car for a strut that would reinforce the gas tank. Ford built thousands of those Pintos knowing that they had a design defect that they could explode in a rear end collision and that the doors were highly likely to jam closed in a rear end collision.

    The real outrage came after a memo came to light which detailed the cost of the repair ($11/car) against what it would cost to settle the lawsuits by those who were actually harmed in such accidents. Knowing that Ford chose, in cold blood, to risk people's lives with a car that had a known defect because it was cheaper to pay off the injured and the grieving... well, people were very, very angry.

    I think there is way less tolerance now for this sort of thing and I believe that is a good thing. To return to this case, the problem with excessive suction is a recognised and well known problem; there have been dozens of deaths (and a lucky few who escaped with hideous injuries--the child in my old home town was not the only victim disembowelled); there is no level of supervision which can prevent victims using the pool as intended from being killed or injured.

    There is no possible excuse for not installing the legally mandated safety equipment.

    I only wish that the vice presidents and president of Ford who decided that the lives of poor people (Pintos were aimed at the lowest end of the market) weren't worth $11/car had been arrested and tried for manslaughter as well.

  15. #15
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    I may be wrong but I don't think the CEO of Ford Motor Company or any other Ford executive was tried for MANSLAUGHTER, though I agree that it was a much more clear cut example of corporate malfeasance that this case is.

    Sorry, I can't agree that suing corporate executives for the faulty work of their employees is any kind of justice or makes any legitimate legal sense without evidence this was done intentially as a policy.

    If this man's company had installed multiple pools where multiple similar injuries had occured and he had flat out told his employees NOT to install the safety device, then I would say you have a case for manslaughter.

    This case is a joke and among the worst examples of legal excess I have seen.

    How is this guy POSSIBLY more responsible than say the Merck scientists who knew for a fact their drug was causing heart attacks? Why hasn'ts anyone from Merck been brought up on manslaughter charges?

    Oh yeah, Merck is a billion dollar global behemoth that can afford dozens of lawyers and this poor slob is some guy who owns a pool installation company...he's an easy target.

    Sorry, this case makes me sick. This is an example of super rich, whiny parents...the 'victim's father runs/ran one of the largest hedge funds on Wall Street which means they are worth tens of millions...who seek to place blame on someone else for this tragedy...no different than suing the parents who host a pool party and some kid drowns..and they are using their money to exact revenge as a way to salve their own guilty consciences.

    Why the Greenwich police and prosecutor went along with it...I can only assume its Blue America at its absolute worst....there isn't much real crime in CT to begin with, none in Greenwich so they're inventing a new class of white collar manslaughter.

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