Man sues for $30 million in pool accident

July 24, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A Glen Burnie man paralyzed in a Fourth of July diving accident last year has sued the pool's owners, its manufacturer and a company that installed the lining for $10 million each.

John B. Rose, 26, a Desert Storm veteran who lives in the 7900 block of Benesch Circle, sustained injuries that left him a quadriplegic six days after being discharged from the Marines, said his lawyer, Christopher P. Brown.

Originally filed in June in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the suit was transferred to Anne Arundel Circuit Court and was received yesterday.

The suit contends that the owners should have known the pool was unsafe for diving because warnings were available from both the pool manufacturer and the company that installed the ** lining.

But Albert J. Mezzanotte Jr., lawyer for Rudi and Hannelore Schanne, the pool owners, said his clients never received such notification.

"Until the contentions in this suit, the Schannes had no information whatsoever that there was anything wrong with the pool," Mr. Mezzanotte said.

Mr. Rose attended a party on July 4, 1991, at the Schannes' home in the first block of Normandy Drive in Glen Burnie. Mr. Rose has known the Schannes for many years, is a boyhood friend of their son and had been in the pool before.

Mr. Brown acknowledged that his client drank beer at the party and "wasn't totally sober."

The pool has a diving board, but Mr. Rose dove into it from the edge, Mr. Brown said. Mr. Rose struck his head on the pool's sloping side, which angles toward the center, in about 5 1/2 feet of water, causing a crushing injury to his spine and complete paralysis to his body from the neck down, the suit said. The water is about 7 1/2 feet at its deepest.

The suit alleges that the design of the pool, which was installed in 1971, was flawed because the gradual slope of the sides left only a small area in the bottom of the pool where it was safe to dive.

The pool's manufacturer, Foxx Pool Corp. of York, Pa., redesigned it in 1973 with sides that were almost vertical. It sent notices in March 1988 to all owners of Foxx pools informing them that the earlier design was not of sufficient depth for diving, and that all diving boards should be removed. It also advised that warning labels prohibiting diving should be placed on the pools.

The suit says this warning did not reach the Schannes because they did not register with the Foxx Pool Corp. But the suit claims the pool manufacturer was negligent because it did not make more of an effort to reach pool owners through a national advertising campaign on radio, television and other media.

In April 1990, the Schannes bought a pool liner from Arnold Pools Inc. of Glen Burnie. The pool liner contained a warning that read, "Warning: the dimensions of the above pool are not in compliance with the minimum NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) diving standards effective January 1989."

The suit states that Arnold Pools should have known the pool was not safe for diving, and, therefore, should have warned the Schannes of the danger. The company also should have installed warning signs and taken off the diving board, or advised the Schannes to take out the diving board, the suit says.

The Schannes are also accused of negligence, with the suit alleging that they should have known, either from the Foxx Pool Corp. or from Arnold Pools, that the pool was unsafe for diving.

Trial is set for Jan. 7.

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