The mother of a three-year-old, who experienced medical issues after participating in a survival swimming class, has sued the Diego Martin Swimming School.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Port-of-Spain Supreme Court Registry on Tuesday, lawyers representing the mother, who cannot be named to protect her daughter’s identity, claimed that the owner of the school and her staff were negligent in the incident.
According to the statement of case, the incident occurred on January 9 as the child was attending her second survival swimming class.
The mother claimed that shortly after picking up her child from the class, she (the child) appeared to be drowsy and fell asleep.
“Thereafter she began coughing repeatedly, while expelling a colourless liquid, experiencing pain, discomfort, and difficulty breathing,” her lawyers said.
The child was taken to the Paediatric Emergency Department at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope where she received treatment. She was assessed as suffering from near-drowning or chemical pneumonitis (difficulty breathing or inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling chemical fumes or choking on chemical substances).
The lawyers noted that while the child recovered, her mother experienced long-term trauma with the incident.
“The First Claimant experiences severe anxiety with respect to leaving her daughter along and/or when the second claimant is interacting with water,” they said.
They claimed that the owner of the school was negligent by failing to ensure her daughter’s safety, by allegedly failing to implement sufficient health and safety procedures, and by failing to have sufficient staff to supervise under-age participants in the classes.
They also noted that after the incident, their client sought to give an account of what transpired on her Facebook page but was threatened with a defamation lawsuit by the school’s lawyers.
“She believed herself to have a moral and/or legal and/or social duty to inform other parents of minors of the injury sustained by the second claimant and/or the risks and/or potential risks which the Defendant had ignored and/or been reckless to the existence of and/or failed to identify,” they said.
They claimed that after they first threatened legal action, the owner of the school improperly obtained a copy of the child’s medical report and posted it on its Facebook page identifying the minor. The posts were subsequently removed.
“By reason of the matter aforesaid, the Claimants have suffered embarrassment, humiliation, distress, loss, and damage,” they said.
Through the lawsuit, the mother is seeking compensation over the incident inclusive of a rebate on the $650 she paid for her daughter to be registered and to participate in the classes.
The mother and child are being represented by Matthew Gayle and Jason Jones.
A date for the first hearing of the lawsuit is yet to be set.