A wrongful death complaint was filed in the 11th Judicial
Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County on behalf of the family of
seven-year-old Calder Sloan, who was electrocuted on April 13, 2014
while swimming in his family's swimming pool due to a faulty pool light
and electrical grounding and bonding on the pool's lighting system,
announced attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, partner at the Coral Gables-based
law firm Colson Hicks Eidson.
The lawsuit was filed against Defendant Pentair Water Pool and Spa,
Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in
Minnesota and authorized dealers and service centers in the state of
Florida; Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa Center, a Florida corporation;
Defendant Gary B Electric and Construction Consultant, Inc. a Florida
corporation; and Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. a/k/a JP
Enterprises Inspection Company, a Florida corporation.
According to the complaint, Defendant Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc.
manufactured and designed the pool light and its constituent parts that
electrocuted and killed Calder Sloan. Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa
Center provided weekly cleaning, maintenance and inspections of the pool
in which Calder Sloan died. Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. was
retained to inspect the Sloan's home and pool's electrical system in
August 2009 when the home was purchased. Defendant Gary B Electric and
Construction Consultant, Inc. was retained to do electrical work on the
Sloan's home in October 2009, including replacing the main electrical
panels, grounding the pool's pump and removing a pole light on the pool
The complaint alleges that Defendant Pentair was negligent and failed to
use reasonable care when designing, manufacturing, testing, inspecting
and marketing the pool light and its constituent parts, including the
pool light's thermal protection sensor, to prevent failure, overheating,
and ultimately, electrocution. Among a host of breaches outlined in the
complaint, Pentair failed to design the shell of the pool light so that
it would not conduct current into the water in the event the light
overheated or shorted and failed to design a one-shot "fail safe" switch
to shut down the circuit or a resettable device that would fail safe in
the event of a ground fault or overheating condition. The complaint
further alleges Pentair marketed and sold the light in Florida as a low
Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa Center is alleged to have failed to use
reasonable care in the inspection and maintenance of the pool and its
equipment and failed to adequately warn the Sloan family of any known
hazards and defects with the pool light and the home's grounding system.
Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. is alleged to have failed to use
reasonable care in the inspection and re-inspection of the home to
ensure the electrical safety of all its electrical components. Defendant
Gary B Electric and Construction is alleged to have failed to use
reasonable care in the inspection, installation, and repair of the
home's electrical components, including the installation of the new
electrical panels and the pool pump's grounding rod and removal of the
pool deck's pole light, to ensure the electrical system was properly
grounded and bonded.
"Electrical mistakes in a pool are serious and can lead to the death of
innocent children," said Gonzalez, counsel for the Sloan family who
filed the lawsuit. "Our initial investigation reveals the light's
electrical cord was thermally compromised by the shell of th light
overheating. This could not occur absent a defect in the thermal
protection device or failure to design the light with an adequate
thermal shutoff. Thermal protection is critical since Pentair designs
the light so that installers wrap the cord around the light fixture once
the light is submerged. Overheating can cause electrical current to
energize the shell of the light, magnifying deadly current in the pool.
In this case it killed Calder Sloan, a kind-hearted, energetic and
talented little boy now known to the World as 'Mr. Awesome.' It has
completely devastated his family. We hope this case results in greater
awareness and care with respect to electrical work and older pool light
designs that do not fail safely. This type of tragedy was preventable
and should never happen again. Mandatory inspections and appropriate
recalls or industry bulletins may prevent such senseless tragedies from
Calder's death stunned many and made national and international
headlines. His famous "Mr. Awesome" self-portrait went viral and has
been shared around the world, including appearing on the Jumbotron in
New York's Times Square, with many celebrities and everyday people
wanting to spread awareness. Calder's family started a website to share
his legacy, www.calderslegacy.com/poolsafety/,
and to warn people of the dangers associated with swimming pools and
home wiring. His story has resulted in thousands of people around
America getting their pools inspected and repaired. More than $100,000
has been donated to Calder's Legacy Charity benefiting his school,
Lehrman Community Day School.
"We were told by Calder's teachers that he would change the world one
day," said Chris Sloan, Calder's father. "He is saving lives by raising
nationwide awareness to the dangers of poor electrical wiring in pools
and homes that in our case had fatal and tragic consequences. We hope
Calder's story continues to be heard and serves as a deterrent so that
this type of preventable accident never happens to anyone else. It is
our long-term goal to pursue changes in laws, building codes, and
inspections to ensure no other family suffers this unfathomable tragedy."
Unfortunately, Calder's case is not an isolated incident. According to
Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) website, incidents
involving underwater pool lighting are more numerous than those
involving any other consumer product used in or around pools, spas, and
hot tubs. In 2003, CPSC
and the American Red Cross issued a warning of electrocution dangers
to swimmers noting that there have been 60 deaths and nearly 50 serious
shocks reported over the past 13 years involving electrical hazards in
and around swimming pools.
Two weeks following Calder's death, three
children were shocked while swimming at a Miami condominium complex
involving an ungrounded pool pump. Fortunately the three children
involved survived. Last year, a
27-year old man died from electrocution in a pool at a Hilton hotel
in Houston due to a short in the pool light and poor electrical work. In
another incident, an
11-year old girl was electrocuted while trying to retrieve a ball
from a pond at a time-share resort miniature golf course near Orlando in
which building department officials say may have been caused by a
possible faulty pump connected to the wrong circuit breaker.
"We are proud of our son's life spirit and the impact he has had
worldwide," added Sloan. "However, it does not take away from the fact
that our family and friends have lost an amazing boy with potential to
share with the world over his lifetime and generations to come. There
are no words strong enough to describe the sense of devastation and
sadness we have that our wonderful son, Calder, was robbed of his
opportunity to live a long and fruitful life and that his brother will
no longer share the powerful brotherly love, friendship, and camaraderie
that they had with each other."
Daniel J. Santaniello of Florida-based Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo &
Jones, is serving as co-counsel for the Sloan family.
For more information on Calder's legacy, visit http://calderslegacy.com/poolsafety/.
To view Calder's tribute video, visit http://vimeo.com/92452244.
To request a copy of the complaint, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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