to bring pools and spas into compliance with the Virginia Graeme
Baker Pool and Spa Safety became effective more than a year ago. As
we know, VGB requires that all public pools and spas be
equipped with unblockable suction outlets and/or secondary safety
However, little attention has been paid to the potential liability
of residential swimming pool or spa owners and the pool service
technician’s duty, if any, to address the issue of
residential anti-entrapment safety upgrades.
Commonly accepted legal principles say that a landowner will be
liable for injury caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care
under the circumstances. For example, the parents of a child
entrapped in a non-compliant residential pool would argue that the
pool owner failed to exercise ordinary care because the entrapment
was foreseeable and would have been prevented had the pool been
upgraded with readily-available anti-entrapment
The pool service technician would likely be sued in this litigation
under the theory that he was negligent by failing to advise the
residential pool owner of the availability of VGB Act-compliant
equipment. The public views service technicians as experts in the
areas of water chemistry, maintenance and equipment by virtue of
their training, certification and experience. The pool
owner’s reliance on the technician’s recommendation, or
lack thereof, is therefore reasonable.
The best approach for the service technician is to provide his
residential customers written notification of the availability of
VGB Act-compliant covers, SVRS products and the safety benefits
each offers. Doing so should satisfy the pool technician’s
duty to warn and, at minimum, it will provide an important element
to his legal defense.
— Ray Arouesty, president, Arrow
Insurance Service Inc., Simi Valley, Calif.