Family Sues Pool Co.
I don't know if folks read the horrific and extremely tragic story of the little girl who tripped and fell onto an open pool drain, losing part of her intestinal tract. Well, surprise, surprise, Abigail Taylor's family doesn't want anyone else to have to go through that. And, as they run out of insurance, they face the expenses associated with six months of hospitalization and a nurse to be by her side 12 hours a day. So they're suing the pool manufacturer. (See the Times) Her lifetime medical expenses could total $30 million.
It is clear here that the Taylors, especially Abigail, deserve nothing but justice here. But how could tort "reform" prevent the Taylors from obtaining it?
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Let's say they sue in Minnesota. At some point Minnesota had a cap at $400,000, but I am not sure if it's still in place. If it finds in favor of the Taylors, a jury could also find that they are limited by an arbitrary cap on damages for emotional distress, and may not be able to compensate Miss Taylor and her family properly for the severe pain and distress she experienced as a result of this incident. In this instance this would be particularly tragic (although she's in good spirits, Abigail "wears a backpack with one tube carrying nutrients to her chest and another tube carrying predigested food to her stomach. She wears a colostomy bag and attends school with a nurse who accompanies her 12 hours a day," (Mr. Taylor quoted in the NY Times)).
Also, in the tort deformer's ideal world, federal preemption law would protect the pool company from liability in a state consumer protection claim if it followed the guidelines of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recent press attention on the CPSC shows that consumers can't exactly sit around and rely on them to properly regulate products and ensure our safety. But stronger state laws protecting us are rendered useless when preemption takes away their meaning.
Of course everyone is blaming each other in this case. The pool company says the Golf Club where the pool is located didn't properly maintain the drain and allowed a golf ball to enter the drain and create the suction force that caused Miss Taylor's injuries. The Golf Club seems to be suggesting that there could be a defect with the drain itself, saying that they've maintained it the same way for four years and never had any problems.
One person who certainly isn't to blame is the little girl who was injured. I hope she finds justice.