Miami-Dade County

North Miami family sues pool companies over the electrocution of 7-year-old son

Holding a photograph of the deadly pink wire with a burn mark that was in the pool the day 7-year-old Calder Sloan was electrocuted, Coral Gables attorney Ervin Gonzalez announced a wrongful death complaint filed Monday on behalf of the victim’s family.

The boy was swimming at his North Miami home on April 13, when the pool light overheated, causing the wiring to fail and send an electrical current through the water.

The Sloan family alleges that the electrocution was the result of a series of avoidable safety blunders leading to the unnecessary death of their son, fondly remembered as “Mr. Awesome.”

When people ask how the family is coping, Chris Sloan, Calder’s father, said he tells friends and family that they are adjusting to the new normal.

But he added, “There’s certainly nothing normal in the horrible way in which he died.”

The family must also cope with their belief that Calder’s death was the result of faulty pool equipment and inspection.

“He suffered,” said Sloan, about the day his son lost his life after diving into the pool for the first swim of the season. “There’s nothing normal about that.”

The pool light, Gonzalez said, had too high a voltage. He added it lacked a way to shut off automatically.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, also claims that the electrical system was not properly grounded and that inspectors failed to catch these problems. The plaintiff will ask for an unspecified amount of monetary compensation.

Four defendants are named in the lawsuit: Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc., the manufacturer of the light; All Florida Pool & Spa Center, a pool maintenance company; Gary B Electric and Construction Consultant, Inc., an electrical company, and Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc., a home inspection company.

David Cohen, president of All Florida Pool & Spa, released a statement that said the company was saddened by the loss of Calder, but that “we had no involvement in the construction, repair and installation of any mechanical, cosmetic and structural portions of this pool.”

The three other defendants either declined to comment or could not be reached for comment. Since the case was filed late Monday, there is no official representation for the defendants yet, Gonzalez said.

During Tuesday’s news conference to announce the suit, Gonzalez and Sloan stood flanked by a picture of Calder holding his “Mr. Awesome” crayon self-portrait, which stared out across the room with a large, toothy smile.

They warned that similar design and maintenance failures could be present in pools across South Florida.

“I can almost guarantee you that this problem is out there right now waiting to hurt somebody else,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez urged people to doublecheck their pools and lights. He also warned that pool electrocution is more common than many realize. This spring in Hialeah, three children were taken to a hospital after being shocked in a pool.

The Sloan family has begun a campaign to spread Calder’s “Mr. Awesome” motto of “Adventure. Laughter. Kindness.”