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Appeals court affirms dismissal of suit against Nappanee in near-drowning

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The city of Nappanee was not negligent and didn’t breach its duty of care when a 5-year-old boy required CPR after lifeguards rescued the child as he floated face-down in a city pool, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The court affirmed a decision of summary judgment in favor of the city entered in the Elkhart Superior Court in W.D., a minor by his parents R.D. and S.D., and R.D. and S.D., individually v. City of Nappanee, No. 20A05-1112-CT-698.

The parents brought suit against the city on behalf of their child after taking him and his 8-year-old sister to the public pool on June 24, 2009. The older girl had taken swimming lessons at the pool, and the mother was registering her son for lessons. The boy, who the record says had limiting swimming skills, watched from the shallow end as his sister dove in the deep end on a hot day when about 120 swimmers were at the pool.

After the girl’s second dive, she walked toward the shallow end and saw her brother floating face down in the water near the edge of the pool. At about the same time, lifeguards pulled the boy from the water, cleared the pool and began administering lifesaving CPR.

“What more the City of Nappanee’s lifeguard staff could have done to protect [W.D.] is hard to fathom,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the unanimous panel.

“Although our courts rarely determine whether a breach of duty occurred as a matter of law, this case represents one of those rare exceptions. Because the record lacks any designated evidence of disputed factual questions that would preclude the entry of summary judgment in this case, we affirm the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the City and its dismissal of W.D.’s complaint,” Mathias wrote.

 

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