of architectural and engineering services for ICC. "It's hard to say for sure."

For its part, NSPI has begun to write its own voluntary standards designed to prevent suction entrapment.

"The standards will describe the phenomena and break it down into the five categories and then define the technologies that will take care of each specific type of entrapment," says Carvin DiGiovanni, the trade group's senior director of technical education and government relations. "It won't damage the existing SVRS [market]. In fact, it will embrace it."

But besides relying on codes and standards, what should industry members do? Are pool and spa equipment manufacturers culpable for the products they produce? A Miami jury certainly thought so. In September 2003, it found pump manufacturer Sta-Rite liable for $104 million in the suction entrapment of teenager Lorenzo Peterson, who was left in a vegetative state after getting his arm entrapped in an apartment complex pool's main drain. It is the largest judgment to date against a maker of pool or spa equipment.

"They were found liable in that they had a design defect," explains Michael Haggard, the attorney representing the Peterson family, who claims pump manufacturers, should have a built-in device that senses vacuum buildup and then automatically shuts down.

Many in the pool and spa industry thought the Peterson jury had missed the point. "The Sta-Rite judgment was absurd," says Bill Kent, president of Homer Equipment, a manufacturer and

 I think ultimately

 [individuals] should

 be responsible for

 their own activities

distributor of pool products based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "I think ultimately [individuals] should be responsible for their own activities. And as long as [products] are safe in the normal use pattern, I think, morally and ethically, we can feel good about them. But the court has decided that something bad has happened, so someone has to pay for it."

The problem, says Water Pik's Nibler, is that the industry is a "custom built project" business. "We can't always foresee the conditions and design parameters," he says. "You can never [predict] how the end user might abuse normal, logical safety parameters. You just can't control 100 percent of all situations."

Maybe not. But if pump manufacturers, along with pool builders themselves, don't take matters into their own hands, the jury awards are likely to continue to grow and the federal government may decide it's time to step in. It did so in 1996 with the automotive industry, making airbags a legal requirement in the wake of strong consumer demand.

"Why wait until we have one summer when [a number of] kids are getting entrapped and it hits the papers?" Stoner asks. "We don't want to wait, and then react and get a black eye. The thing is, all this stuff can be fixed. And it's more business for the industry [by selling safety products], while at the same time putting a good image on it.

"Making safer pools -tell me how that's a negative thing. It's win-win." .

 Pool & Spa News would like to thank Joe Cohen, owner of Fail,Safe, for his contributions to this article.

 Click to read THE LEGACY OF EVISCERATION


 

 

 

 

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 Products must be implemented as per system/job specific application . It is the obligation of the installer to understand the intended use and application prior to installation of any product or device.
We do however recommend the use of products certified via (NRTL) Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories as per ASME/ANSI A112.19.17 & ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 2007 Standards.
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