CHICAGO — On February 27, 2020, Cavanagh Law Group partners Tim Cavanagh, Stacey Cavanagh and Mike Sorich obtained a $6 million settlement for a man who nearly drowned in a supervised pool in the Chicagoland area in 2017.
The 61-year-old man was swimming laps when he had a heart attack at the edge of the pool and went underwater. He was within 10 feet of two lifeguards at the time, but they were talking to each other and not scanning the pool. The man was submerged for more than five minutes before he was rescued by another swimmer.
The entire incident was captured on surveillance video.
The man was rushed to a nearby hospital and placed in a medically induced coma for several days. He survived but sustained a mild traumatic brain injury.
Cavanagh Law Group filed a negligence lawsuit in 2017. The firm obtained the $6 million settlement days before the case was set to go to trial in Cook County.
“The lifeguard’s job is to scan the pool and be alert,” Cavanagh said. “The surveillance video makes it clear the lifeguards were distracted and not doing their jobs. It’s miraculous our client survived, but his injury will impact him for the rest of his life.”
Both lifeguards on duty had been certified for fewer than two months at the time of the incident and were left alone that day without supervision. The Aquatics Director had recently left her job and the position was unfilled on the day of the incident.
In discovery, Cavanagh Law Group attorneys learned that one of the lifeguards had a foot injury that prevented her from leaving her lifeguard station. Both internal safety protocols and industry standards required lifeguards to walk the length of the pool, scan the pool and not talk to co-workers or patrons while on duty.
The firm’s client was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury and injury to the prefrontal cortex of the brain. He has lasting memory deficits.
Cavanagh Law Group was prepared to present 28 witnesses at trial, including experts in the field of neuropsychology, neurology, life-care planning, economics, cardiology and aquatics safety.
A confidentiality agreement remains in place limiting the information that can be revealed.