Mom can’t sue township official over toddler daughter’s drowning in neighbor’s swimming pool: PA. court

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A mother whose 20-month-old daughter drowned in a neighbor’ above-ground swimming pool can’t sue a township official who approved the placement of the pool’s access gate system, a Commonwealth Court panel has decided.

The bottom line is that Jeff Richardson, Coolspring Township’s building codes inspector, is immune from Anna Oakes’ complaint because he’s a government employee, Judge Michael H. Wojcik concluded in the state court’s opinion.

The case centers on what happened in the Mercer County community on April 20, 2016. Oakes’ daughter, Pheylan Marie Cline, got through two gates that were supposed to prevent easy access to the pool, fell in and drowned.

Oakes claimed in her lawsuit that Richardson was negligent in allowing the pool owner to install two security gates that both opened toward the pool. She insisted the gate setup violated state building codes.

“Oakes’ theory of liability is that the improper gate configuration allowed Decedent access to the neighbor’s swimming pool, which led to her tragic death,” Wojcik wrote in upholding a county judge’s dismissal of the case.

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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