The evisceration of a 6-year-old Minnesota girl has
brought suction entrapment to the forefront of the national
press and will likely speed passage of the first national
pool and spa safety law.
On June 29, Abigail Taylor became entrapped in a wading
pool at the Minneapolis Golf Club.
?The drain at the bottom of the wading pool was
uncovered,? said Robert Bennett, the Taylor
family?s attorney. ?She slipped and fell,
and a seal was formed.? He said that a 2-inch hole
was torn in her rectum and most of her intestines were lost
in the evisceration. Doctors had to remove the rest in
Bennett wouldn?t offer specifics, but said he
believes the family will take legal action. ?Both
pool [equipment manufacturer] and operators are jointly
liable,? Bennett said. He added that the drain was
made by Sta-Rite, which has lost past cases, including a
$104 million verdict in 2003 that was eventually overturned
The incident has received extensive press coverage,
including an episode on a cable-TV news program. As a
result, the first national pool/spa safety law is
attracting widespread attention again.
The Pool & Spa Safety Act inspired in
part by a 2002 entrapment incident originally was
introduced in both legislative bodies last year. While the
U.S. Senate version passed, the House bill died in the
session?s final hours. It was reintroduced in the
House in March 2007.
If passed, the House and Senate bills would allow states
to receive grant money by passing their own pool and spa
safety laws, as long as they meet certain criteria for
addressing drowning and entrapment hazards. The bills would
pertain to new and existing pools.
The legislation has moved swiftly. Two weeks after
Taylor?s entrapment, a Senate bill was
reintroduced. The bill?s language has passed
through committee and awaits a full hearing.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of three Minnesota
Congress members who added their names to the bill, amended
it to state that all commercial pools must be updated for
safety within a year after the law passes in the state that
?The Abigail Taylor tragedy is just another
example of how overdue the need for pool safety legislation
is,? said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.),
who authored the House bill.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals
supports the bills, for the most part. APSP plans to
negotiate with the bill?s authors to change the
language so it matches APSP?s recently released
entrapment standard, which states that dual main drains and
the anti-entrapment drain covers are sufficient. Currently,
APSP thinks it is too much to require states to include
safety vacuum release systems, suction-limiting vents and
gravity drainage systems or automatic shut-off systems
in addition to dual main drains and
anti-entrapment drain covers.
Wasserman Schultz doesn?t expect to change the
bill. ?It?s something we?re
discussing with [APSP], but not something I currently
favor,? she said. ?I think the standard in
the bill is stronger.?