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Broward County, Florida

This action stemmed from the near-drowning of a four-year-old girl in the defendant’s apartment complex swimming pool. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant was negligent in failing to maintain the pool gate, thereby permitting the child to enter the pool. The minor plaintiff was left with a severe brain injury as a result of the accident. The defendant argued that the plaintiff parents were comparatively negligent in failing to properly supervise the child.

The minor plaintiff and her family resided in the defendant’s 26- unit apartment complex in Hollywood. According to the plaintiffs’ contentions, in May ________, the plaintiff father was cooking on an outside grill at approximately 6:00 P.M. and was taking the food upstairs, when his four-year-old daughter wandered away without his notice. The girl walked 65 feet through an exterior hallway, entered the swimming pool area and fell into the pool. She was discovered unconscious some time later by two residents of the apartment complex.

The plaintiff produced several witnesses who resided in the apartment complex. The witnesses testified that the defendant’s apartment manager received complaints concerning the pool gate months before the accident. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to repair the broken pool gate, permitting the child to enter the pool.

The minor plaintiff’s doctors testified that the child suffered a severe permanent anoxic brain injury due to lack of oxygen. She is unable to speak or feed herself and receives nutrition through a gastric feeding tube. The child will require nursing care for the remainder of her life and will never be capable of living independently, according to all of the plaintiff’s treating physicians. The minor plaintiff made two brief appearances in a wheelchair at trial. She has one sibling, a brother, age eight at trial.

The defendant argued that the child was missing for more than five minutes and that the accident resulted from the plaintiff parents’ failure to properly supervise their daughter. The defense contended that it had fixed the pool gate twice and had no notice that it was broken again.

Following a two-week trial the jury found the defendant 99% negligent and the plaintiff parents 1% comparatively negligent.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $________ million in damages, which was reduced accordingly.

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