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Burlington County, NJ

In this Tort Claims Act case, the plaintiff contended that the defendant acted in a palpably unreasonable manner in failing to provide adequate supervision and monitoring during the weekly swim class in the indoor pool. The plaintiff contended that as a result, the 16-year-old autistic student drowned. The drowning, and the minutes leading up to it, were captured on the school’s video system.

The evidence disclosed that as the class was near the shallow end, the decedent went to the deep end where he had previously engaged in an exercise, in which he retrieved rings that were on the bottom. He had some difficulties pushing himself up from the bottom and swimming to the surface

The plaintiff argued that the video showed that the life guards did not position themselves properly so that the entire pool is well monitored at all times, and did not scan the pool adequately, as well as did not count class members as they exited the pool.

The prosecutor’s office had conducted an investigation. The plaintiff pointed to statements to show that proper monitoring was not provided. There were no criminal charges brought.

The video showed the decedent diving into the water, and appeared to have no difficulties swimming to the bottom in approximately 15 seconds. The plaintiff maintained, however, that it became evident that the decedent could not swim to the top, and the decedent was visible in the video for approximately one minute as he was attempting to do so.

The plaintiff maintained that the pain, suffering, and terror experienced by the decedent was great, and presented an expert anesthesiologist who is renowned in the field of the aquatic safety and the effects an individual feels as one drowns. The plaintiff also made a claim for loss of companionship and advice. The decedent lived in a group home, and the plaintiff contended that he would have moved home and that he would have provided very significant services to his divorced mother.

The defendant contended that the decedent might have provided companionship that was not an element of damages that could be awarded to the decedent’s mother, and not services, which would be expected to be provided to the disabled decedent by his mother.The case settled prior to the institution of suit for $________.

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