Lifeguard can be sued in student's drowning

The Michigan appeals court says the family of a young man who drowned at a state-run school can sue the lifeguard.
AP Wire
Jul 6, 2014


William Beals had been at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute for a week when he drowned in a pool in 2009. Students with disabilities learn vocational skills at the school in Barry County.

Witnesses said lifeguard William Harmon seemed distracted that day while talking to girls and playing with a football. The 19-year-old Beals was considered a good swimmer, but he didn't emerge from the deep end of the pool.

The appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, agrees with a local judge who said allegations of gross negligence mean the lifeguard isn't entitled to governmental immunity.

Appellate Judge Peter O'Connell dissented, saying the lifeguard isn't to blame.



money makes everything better


This sets an ugly precedent. Even if this kids was momentarily derelict in his duties, a distracted lifeguard is hardly anything new. It's as old a tale as the position. If he was deemed trust-worthy enough to have been employed in the position, I would expect that he feels devastated by this kid's death. If he was a bad hire, I'd go back to those that hired him and sue the organization. If you are going to require individual summer kids to carry $1M of liability insurance, you might as well just close all pools now.
This goes with the sledding accident in Grand Haven, people need to take personal responsibility when engaging in risky behavior/activities. I know that I didn't teach my kids to ski, boat or snowmobile feeling like I had the safety net that if they were killed I would start suing everyone that had even peripheral involvement in their participation in the activity. I taught them these activities while stress the risks and how to avid them. I did not just set them loose and expect that I could hold big brother responsible if something happened.


If this rulling stands, Why would any person(kid as most lifeguards are)making minimum wage become a lifeguard. It would appear that there will be a lifeguard shortage in the very near future. The lifeguards should be responable but it is a difficult job to be vigulant for many hours at a time.


It is no different than our government who rewards failure and punishes success and passes on personal responsibilities and liabilities up the food chain to the nearest deep pockets.
With the right slime ball attorney and helpful legislation from a victim oriented legislature they could sue for the poor economy that eliminated a second life guard even if there never was one. Sue the city works dept. for supplying water that is lethal when inhaled in place of air. Maybe the girl(s) that were talking to the lifeguard then go after Wilson for making the football that he was playing with and lastly Target/Sears who made the air compressor used to inflate the football of death…Oh how did I miss the parents…if mom and pop had never brought this slacker into the world and let him be a lifeguard someone else would have been on duty…maybe some unattractive rube that hates sports and is too inhibited to speak to girls…perhaps he was the result of a failed contraceptive, they bought the cheap stuff cause mom or dad’s work refused to pay for the good stuff.


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