There is an interesting criminal case in Connecticut that falls on the borderline between criminal law and torts. The president of a residential pool company was criminally charged with manslaughter for the death of six-year-old Zachary Cohn, who drowned after having his arm caught in a pool drain. Prosecutors allege that David Lionetti, president of Shoreline Pools, knew of the problem with the drain. This is only the latest tragic death involving such drains in pools, click here.
There have been civil lawsuits in the past years over these dangers and one has already been filed in this case. However, the use of criminal charges remains novel. Here it is based on presumed knowledge of the danger and failure to address the problem. He could face 10 years in prison.
An affidavit in the case alleges that Lionetti knew of the problem, click here. It states that Bthe New England Pool and Spa Professionals, a trade group, sent his company, Shoreline Pools, various alerts and information about the tougher safety guidelines on pool design. More importantly, this danger is well known in the industry. These cases are all too common and reflect a failure in federal and state regulation, click here. There have been 150 injuries tied to pool drains reported in the country since 1985 — a high number since most such incidents are likely not reported because the child was able to be rescued in time. There have been 48 deaths and there are some cases where organs have been literally sucked out of the bodies of child who are pulled against these powerful drains, click here.
In the case of Zachary Cohn, he drowned after his arm became stuck in an intake valve in the deep end of the family’s in-ground pool on July 26, 2007. The lawsuit by the parents alleges that the pool
violated safety code requirements.
Three days before his arrest, Lionetti’s warehouse was destroyed in a fire.
For the full story, click here.