South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Open and Obvious Danger Precludes Liability Suit in Swimming Pool Death Case
Description Appeals court held that the heirs to a 17-year-old who died when she dove into a neighbor's four-foot deep pool had no case. The danger posed by the pool was obvious, and since the decedent had used the pool numerous times, she was aware of the danger.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Swimming Pool; Duty; Obvious Danger
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Stopczynski, age 17, was allowed to use a neighbor’s swimming pool, which she did frequently. One day, when swimming alone, she broke her neck and died after diving into the four-foot deep pool. Her mother sued the pool owner for negligence for failing a duty of due care to prevent injury. The pool owner moved to have the case dismissed. The trial court refused that request, holding that it was for the jury to decide if the pool owner owed a duty of care to prevent injury. The owner appealed.

Reversed. The property owner had no duty to supervise the social guest. Stopczynski’s older boy friend was also at the pool, and so served in a supervisory position. The open and obvious danger doctrine applies here and precludes liability against the property owner. The users of the pool were aware of its depth and of the dangers of diving into shallow water. The fact that Stopczynski was a minor does not make a difference in this instance.

Citation Stopczynski v. Woodcock, 258 Mich.App. 226 (Ct. App., Mich., 2003)

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