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$7M for Brain Damage after Drowning

Posted on Jan 01, 2012

A settlement was agreed to last Tuesday, December 20, for $7 million, which will go to a woman who had drowned in a pool in Buffalo, NY, in August 2009 and suffered brain damage as a result.

Jannette Morales, 37 at the time, was swimming in Rees Street pool in the middle of the afternoon. The pool was crowded and lifeguards were on duty, but it was her son who pulled her floating body out from the water without help from either of the lifeguards.

The County attorney believed the settlement to be less than what a jury would hand down  if the county was found liable for improperly training and supervising the lifeguards. The trial was scheduled for January.

The trial would have included accusations that the lifeguards were distracted by conversation and texting, while many of the pool's occupants were engaged in prohibited acts. The lifeguards' attention and perhaps timely CPR might have saved Ms. Morales. The County, on the other hand, would have argued that her history of seizures and failure to notify the lifeguards both caused her drowning and failed to direct the lifeguards' special attention to her.

Erie County is now on the hook for the award. Its payout fund was set to be between $6 million and $9 million next year, and the County is looking to borrow the money to pay off this case for now. Meanwhile, the administration is in a court battle with the city of Buffalo over who is really liable for the payment. A State Supreme Court has already sided with the city; that Erie County must pay. That decision is now being appealed.

As a practicing medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury attorney in New York, I deal with the results of negligence like this every day. If you have experienced related problems, I want you to pick up the phone and call me. I can help. If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.

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