A woman in Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart after her son drowned in an inflatable pool purchased from the retail giant.
Marisol Maldonado filed the claim in June of last year, seeking
recovery of damages for the death of her son in 2006. The case is
currently in a pre-trial phase of investigating manufacturing
standards, labeling and related lawsuits.
Maldonado’s complaint cites the inflatable pool as
defective and alleges negligence on the part of Wal-Mart.
“The instructions and warnings don’t seem to tell the
consumers that you really need to have some kind of fence, not only
for other people … but your own kids.” said Mike
Rooney, principal a Rooney & Rooney, LLP, who is representing
However, the actual manufacturer of the pool is still being
investigated because the product was thrown away by the
victim’s grandmother shortly after the incident.
Aqua Leisure Industries and Intex Recreation Corp. initially were named as
defendants in the lawsuit because they supplied inflatable pools to
Wal-Mart. But it was later determined that the more likely
manufacturer was General Foam Plastics. General Foam has been named in
at least two other lawsuits involving product liability and big-box
stores. The Norfolk, Va.-based manufacturer was named alongside
KMart as a defendant in two separate cases: a complaint over ladder injuries
in 1997 and a cover-related drowning lawsuit in 2006.
The Maldonado case illustrates a common concern among dealers of
pool and spa products. One of the biggest dangers for consumers
buying pools from big-box stores is the absence of advice, which is
available at specialty retail outlets.
“[Big-box stores] might have employees there to help you
drag it out to the car, but they don’t have … people
who are familiar with safety standards and fencing code
requirements,” Rooney noted.
Affordability has bolstered inflatable pool sales in recent
years, but the product’s popularity has led to problems. In
2004, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported nine deaths associated with
inflatable pools. That number increased to 17 in 2005, and then 21
“As the number of [inflatable] pools goes up, I think the
number of drownings will go up ... unless there’s a much
better education program and warnings so people know what the
hazards are with these things,” Rooney said. “We hope
[to] advance public safety with some of this, and public awareness