Resort Will Pay Record $26 Million Settlement For Chlorine Burns In Pool

A Myrtle Beach resort is set to pay $26 million to resolve a federal lawsuit arising from a 2020 incident in which a 3-year-old sustained severe chlorine burns while staying at the Caribbean Resort, according to a press release from the family’s attorneys.

The incident occurred during the Memorial Day weekend in 2020 when the family was vacationing at the resort, managed by Brittain Resorts. The law firm Trial Lawyers for Justice disclosed that the child’s injuries were the result of exposure to a swimming pool with “dangerously high and illicit chlorine levels.”

The lawsuit exposed that the chlorine level records submitted to the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control had been falsified over several years.

The family became aware of the child’s symptoms after leaving the resort and heading home. The child’s condition deteriorated over several hours before the parents sought medical attention from a pediatrician the following morning. Subsequently, the child was admitted to the University of North Carolina Burn Center, where treatment spanned a week, as per the attorneys.

The family, suspecting the chlorine burns originated from elevated chemical levels in the resort’s pool, later contacted the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Following tests that revealed dangerously high chlorine levels, DHEC promptly closed down the pool.

Expressing relief at the resolution, Heather Douglas, the toddler’s mother, stated in a news release, “I am relieved that justice has been served for my son, who endured unimaginable pain and suffering. No amount of money can erase the trauma he and my family experienced, or erase the permanent scarring, but this victory provides accountability and most importantly, closure and protection for other children.”

Criminal Charges Filed

The severity of the chlorine burns led to the closure of two pools at the resort, and the pool operator was arrested for falsifying records related to the pools. The lawsuit contended that the chlorine level records submitted to state regulators had been falsified over a span of years.

In March, the DHEC’s Office of Criminal Investigations arrested Juan Arocho Rivera, the pool operator, on charges of forgery for falsifying chlorine and pH levels in pool inspection logs at the resort.

ccording to a report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), tests conducted on the resort’s lazy river and spa revealed chlorine levels exceeding 10, with the lazy river’s pH level at 8.10, beyond the state’s regulatory range of 7 to 7.8. DHEC promptly closed both facilities until corrections were implemented, as state law mandates chlorine levels to be under 8 ppm.

Record-Setting Settlement

Attorney Nick Rowley, representing the family, expressed frustration, stating that the resort’s log book indicated normal chlorine levels on the days the child used the pool. However, an investigation revealed that a resort employee, certified in pool operation, had entered data on days when he wasn’t on duty, including the day of the child’s injury.

Rowley emphasized, “This record-setting settlement will not only fully compensate a little boy and his family but will send a powerful message to corporations across the country that callous disregard for the rights and safety of resort guests and children has significant consequences.” He criticized the resort and its insurance companies for their persistent refusal to settle the case and accept responsibility for the harm caused to the child.

  • Original Article: Pool Magazine
  • Date: January 2024