Last week, two year-old twin sisters Harmony and Harmani West tragically drowned in the swimming pool of their apartment complex, Tivoli Park, in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Since the incident, while the parents are attempted to cope with their brutal and unfair loss, residents and neighbors have clearly and unequivocally placed the blame on the management company for the family’s loss.
“The doors don’t lock.” Residents said in no uncertain terms that the door and gate to the pool is always open. Lou Pena, a fellow resident at Tivoli Park told police and news reporters that the pool door “never locks. Anyone can go in whenever they want I don’t blame a little child for wandering in it was going to happen sooner or later.”
As discussed last week in our first entry on this tragedy, Florida Law imposes that residential swimming pools be fenced in. At the time of passage of the new law, drowning was the leading cause of death of young children in the state of Florida. The Legislature received testimony of experts throughout the legislative process confirming that constant adult supervision is the key to accomplishing the objective of reducing the number of submersion incidents, and that when lapses in supervision occur a pool safety feature designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool will reduce drowning incidents.
As a result, the new law provided in part that residential swimming pools, such as the one at Tivoli Park, must be fenced in. Florida Statute 515.29 imposes certain standards for apartment complex and large residences in the manner their swimming pools must be fenced in:
Gates that provide access to swimming pools must be self-closing and equipped with a self-latching locking device, the release mechanism of which must be located on the pool side of the gate and so placed that it cannot be reached by a young child over the top or through any opening or gap.
According to statements from residents at Tivoli Park, the management company of the apartment complex did not maintain their property adequately by allowing the door on their swimming pool’s fence to remain constantly open. The news report above clearly shows that the latching mechanism was broken at the time of the incident. This essentially caused the fence to be utterly useless as any child could walk through and gain access to the swimming pool, like it happened last week. Tivoli Park is likely negligent for the terrible tragedy that occurred on their property.
Leesfield Scolaro has successfully litigated several injury claims arising out of the negligence of property owners and management companies and the lack of maintenance of pools, commercial pools, and spas: Federal Judge Awards $2.95 Million in Wrongful Death Drowning Cases