A man who was born with cerebral palsy is to receive a €4m compensation package in and injury claim for an injury sustained adter diving into a public swimming pool.
Reece Hodder (28) from Scarborough, Western Australia, was deaf, blind and mute from birth and had a concept of danger equivalent to that of a twelve-year-old. In January 2006, he was visiting the South Hedland Aquatic centre in Perth, Western Australia when he dived from a block positioned at the shallow end of the pool into 1.1 metres of water. The collision with the floor of the pool left Reece completely paralysed, and whereas before the accident he was living an independent life, his quadriplegic condition now means that he requires full-time care.
Reece´s mother, Elaine, sued the Town of Port Hedland – the owners of the pool – and the YMCA who managed it, claiming that both parties were negligent in contributing to Reece´s accident. In March this year, the Port Hedland District Court heard that the Town of Port Headland council had been warned three times prior to the accident about the dangers of having permanent diving blocks at the shallow side of the pool and had been criticised for displaying inadequate warning signs.
Finding the council 90% negligent, Judge Patrick O´Neal stated that “On the evidence at trial, there were organisations, public and private, offering money for improvements to the South Hedland Aquatic Centre. Despite all of this, for reasons that were never explained, (the council) repeatedly delayed about making the changes until it was literally too late.”
The judge struck out the action against the YMCA – although there had been no lifeguards on duty at the time of the accident – and announced last week that compensation for the serious personal injury claim had been agreed by the two parties at €4m. The settlement is still subject to the approval of the District Court as Reece is disabled.