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Teen who nearly drowned settles suit for $1M

Bill Cresenzo//August 3, 2020

Teen who nearly drowned settles suit for $1M

Bill Cresenzo//August 3, 2020


A teenager who suffered brain damage after he almost drowned in a town-owned swimming pool has settled a lawsuit against the town for $1 million, his attorneys report.

The attorneys, Lee Olive and Whitney Brooks of Charlotte, reported that the settlement agreement contained a clause stating that “the terms of the settlement were confidential to the extent allowed by law” and declined to identify the defendant town. Any settlement agreement entered into by a municipality in North Carolina is a public record subject to disclosure under the state’s Public Records Act, but as a practical matter, citizens can’t plausibly obtain such records without knowing where to direct their requests. Lawyers Weekly was unable to obtain a record of the agreement despite making the best reasonable efforts to do so and has decided, with reservations, to publish this story despite being unable to identify the name of the defendant town, which is ostensibly a matter of public record.

brookswhitneyOlive and Brooks said that the 15-year old client was swimming with his friends at a recreation center. A video of the incident shows that the teen suddenly went underwater and sunk to the bottom of the pool. He remained there for more than two and a half minutes before his friends realized that he was in danger. 

Video footage showed a lifeguard step down from the lifeguard stand, walk to the edge of the pool and peer into the deep end, where the teen’s body was at the bottom of the pool, Olive said. His friends then dove to the bottom of the pool and brought him to the surface. The lifeguard helped lift the teen out of the pool after he was brought to the surface, but never got in the pool. The lifeguard performed CPR before another lifeguard took over.


“The video footage directly conflicted with the lifeguard’s statements to authorities after the incident in which the lifeguard stated that during the incident, he jumped in the pool to rescue the boy,” Brooks said.  

The teen suffered a brain injury resulting from oxygen deprivation. He was taken to a hospital, where he developed aspiration pneumonia, a type of lung infection that results from a large amount of fluid entering the lungs. He also underwent inpatient rehabilitation at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He was able to return to high school with academic accommodations and is now enrolled in college where he receives testing and note-taking accommodations, Olive said. 

The lawsuit was settled at mediation on June 26. The town argued the teen would have had to have been underwater for a longer period of time to have suffered irreversible brain damage, Olive said.

Follow Bill Cresenzo on Twitter @bcresenzonclw


Amount: $1 million

Injuries alleged: Anoxic brain injury

Case name: Withheld

Court: Withheld

Case No.: Withheld

Date of settlement: June 26

Special damages: $104,172 (past medical bills)

Attorneys for plaintiff: Lee Olive and Whitney Brooks of Charlotte 

Attorney for defendant: Withheld





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