The family of a 14-year-old freshman who drowned in a school swimming pool in Oregon is suing the school district, the city and pool equipment businesses for USD 70 million.
Nabila Maazouz was a freshman at the Oregon Episcopal School, as well as a member of the Liberty High School swimming team, which is located in the city of Hillsboro in Washington County in the north-western US state of Oregon.
She died in 2019 after swimming practice when she and other students were instructed to pull a cover across the pool and then swim back under it to grab a second cover and place it next to the first one before swimming back under the second cover, according to local media outlet KOIN, citing the lawsuit, which was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Tuesday 5th October.
The lawsuit alleges that Nabila did not surface after the second cover was placed on top of the water and no one noticed. After the swimming pool was completely covered, the swimmers and their coaches left the pool after turning off the lights.
The victim’s mother was reportedly waiting for her outside the facility but grew concerned when she saw other members of the swimming team and staff leaving while her daughter was nowhere to be seen.
She went into the facility and asked staff where her daughter was, according to KOIN citing the lawsuit.
After the facility was properly searched, the teenager’s lifeless body was allegedly found under the pool covers at the deep end of the swimming pool.
The lawsuit alleges that the ThermGard pool covers were “unreasonably dangerous”, adding that they did not put sufficient warnings on them and that the warnings went against industry standards.
ThermGard pool covers are made by the company Universal Filtration Inc., and they, along with BK Reilly & Co., who sold the pool cover and who operates under the business name The Pool and Spa House, have all reportedly been named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department and Hillsboro School District are guilty of negligence by allowing the pool covers to be used and allowing members of the swimming team to swim under them.
The lawsuit also alleges that the school district is guilty of failing to train staff and swimmers properly regarding the proper use of the covers in a safe way.
The lawsuit also claims negligence because there was no lifeguard on duty and because they failed to notice that Nabila had not resurfaced.
Beth Graser, a spokesperson for the school district, is quoted in KOIN as saying that she “experienced a rush of emotions and sadness thinking about the loss”.
She added: “Nabila’s death was a tragedy that we are all still grieving. Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to her family and all who knew her.”
She reportedly declined to comment on the USD-70-million (GBP-51.3-million) lawsuit.