The family of a toddler who drowned at a Decatur, Ga., apartment complex will receive a $2.25 million settlement from the owner. The settlement is reportedly the largest wrongful death settlement for a child in that state.
The day of the incident, 2-year-old Jonathan Flores was playing outside with his older brother while their father worked nearby. Then Jonathan wandered off toward the pool behind the building. The pool gate was broken and stuck open, according to the family?s attorney, Michael Haggard. It allowed the child to gain access to the water, and he subsequently drowned.
The owner, Tempo Real Estate Corp., had already been cited for the broken self-latching, self-closing gate, and used mattress springs to temporarily remedy it, said Haggard, partner at Haggard, Parks, Haggard & Lewis in Miami.
According to Stephen Cotter, Tempo?s attorney, the renters? lease included a clause that made the parents responsible for their children or guests in the pool area. This clause was not enforced by the courts, said the partner at Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, LLP in Atlanta.
?We?ve gone from a situation where a landlord could have [an unguarded] pool and rely on the parents ? to take care of their children and not sue them [to a different situation],? Cotter said.
This settlement may make other apartment complex owners take a closer look at the risks and benefits of having a pool on site, if they are no longer protected by their leases, Cotter said.
From 1999 to 2001, the latest statistics available, 49 children under age 5 drowned in Georgia.