The last in a string of personal-injury lawsuits filed against the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals has been dismissed.
The suit also named diving board manufacturer S.R. Smith as a defendant. It sought to use a prior lawsuit against NSPI (now APSP) as precedent.
In June 2003, 28-year-old Michael Lockman of Georgia suffered a spinal cord injury when he dove into his parents’ pool and hit his head on the slope leading from the diving well to the shallow end.
The vinyl-liner pool had been installed by a contractor, Larry Hughes, who used a kit that had been purchased some time prior at a liquidation sale. The kit contained a liner, diving board and diving-board stand, and Hughes didn’t know whether the components were prepackaged or had been customized for a particular installation. For the dimensions, the builder claimed he followed drawings that came on the box for the liner. No one could recall or definitively identify the liner producer.
Lockman filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Rome Division, against the National Spa & Pool Institute and S.R. Smith, which had manufactured the diving board. The builder was never a member of NSPI and did not claim to have referred to its standards. Lockman, however, contended that the drawing on the liner box was close enough to the NSPI standard to deduce that it had been used as a guideline.
As for S.R. Smith, the plaintiff claimed the diving board was defective and that the manufacturer didn’t provide proper warning about the potential for injury and proper diving methods.
As precedent, Lockman named Meneely vs. S.R. Smith, the 2000 landmark suit in which NSPI was ordered to pay approximately $6 million and file for bankruptcy reorganization, re-emerging as APSP.
NSPI/APSP countered that its standards never would have classified the Lockman pool as suitable for diving. The association also maintained that the standard was voluntary and NSPI did not have a duty to enforce it.
The court agreed with NSPI and further rejected Meneely vs. S.R. Smith as precedent, stating that the Meneely pool did qualify as a diving pool under the NSPI standard, but the Lockman pool did not. It added that the Georgia courts impose a more stringent burden of proof on plaintiffs than those in the state of Washington, where the Meneely case was heard.The court further stated that the pool was not suitable for the S.R. Smith diving board, releasing the manufacturer from responsibility. The plaintiff withdrew his product defect claim before the court issued its decision.