Colson Hicks Eidson Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit On Behalf of Seven-Year-Old Calder Sloan

June 25, 2014 / 11:59 am

Child died tragically after being electrocuted in swimming pool

Attorneys and Family calling for mandatory inspections and appropriate recalls

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 24, 2014) – A wrongful death complaint was filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County on behalf of the family of seven-year-old Calder Sloan, who was electrocuted on April 13, 2014 while swimming in his family’s swimming pool due to a faulty pool light and electrical grounding and bonding on the pool’s lighting system, announced Coral Gables-based law firm Colson Hicks Eidson.

The lawsuit was filed against Defendant Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Minnesota and authorized dealers and service centers in the state of Florida; Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa Center, a Florida corporation; Defendant Gary B Electric and Construction Consultant, Inc. a Florida corporation; and Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. a/k/a JP Enterprises Inspection Company, a Florida corporation.

According to the complaint, Defendant Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Inc. manufactured and designed the pool light and its constituent parts that electrocuted and killed Calder Sloan. Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa Center provided weekly cleaning, maintenance and inspections of the pool in which Calder Sloan died. Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. was retained to inspect the Sloan’s home and pool’s electrical system in August 2009 when the home was purchased. Defendant Gary B Electric and Construction Consultant, Inc. was retained to do electrical work on the Sloan’s home in October 2009, including replacing the main electrical panels, grounding the pool’s pump and removing a pole light on the pool deck.

The complaint alleges that Defendant Pentair was negligent and failed to use reasonable care when designing, manufacturing, testing, inspecting and marketing the pool light and its constituent parts, including the pool light’s thermal protection sensor, to prevent failure, overheating, and ultimately, electrocution. Among a host of breaches outlined in the complaint, Pentair failed to design the shell of the pool light so that it would not conduct current into the water in the event the light overheated or shorted and failed to design a one-shot “fail safe” switch to shut down the circuit or a resettable device that would fail safe in the event of a ground fault or overheating condition. The complaint further alleges Pentair marketed and sold the light in Florida as a low voltage fixture.

Defendant All Florida Pool & Spa Center is alleged to have failed to use reasonable care in the inspection and maintenance of the pool and its equipment and failed to adequately warn the Sloan family of any known hazards and defects with the pool light and the home’s grounding system. Defendant Jorge Perez Enterprises, Inc. is alleged to have failed to use reasonable care in the inspection and re-inspection of the home to ensure the electrical safety of all its electrical components. Defendant Gary B Electric and Construction is alleged to have failed to use reasonable care in the inspection, installation, and repair of the home’s electrical components, including the installation of the new electrical panels and the pool pump’s grounding rod and removal of the pool deck’s pole light, to ensure the electrical system was properly grounded and bonded.

“Electrical mistakes in a pool are serious and can lead to the death of innocent children,” said a Colson Hicks Eidson attorney, counsel for the Sloan family who filed the lawsuit. “Our initial investigation reveals the light’s electrical cord was thermally compromised by the shell of the light overheating. This could not occur absent a defect in the thermal protection device or failure to design the light with an adequate thermal shutoff. Thermal protection is critical since Pentair designs the light so that installers wrap the cord around the light fixture once the light is submerged. Overheating can cause electrical current to energize the shell of the light, magnifying deadly current in the pool. In this case it killed Calder Sloan, a kind-hearted, energetic and talented little boy now known to the World as “Mr. Awesome.” It has completely devastated his family. We hope this case results in greater awareness and care with respect to electrical work and older pool light designs that do not fail safely. This type of tragedy was preventable and should never happen again. Mandatory inspections and appropriate recalls or industry bulletins may prevent such senseless tragedies from occurring again.”

Calder’s death stunned many and made national and international headlines. His famous “Mr. Awesome” self-portrait went viral and has been shared around the world, including appearing on the Jumbotron in New York’s Times Square, with many celebrities and everyday people wanting to spread awareness. Calder’s family started a website to share his legacy, www.calderslegacy.com/poolsafety/, and to warn people of the dangers associated with swimming pools and home wiring. His story has resulted in thousands of people around America getting their pools inspected and repaired. More than $100,000 has been donated to Calder’s Legacy Charity benefitting his school, Lehrman Community Day School.

“We were told by Calder’s teachers that he would change the world one day,” said Chris Sloan, Calder’s father. “He is saving lives by raising nationwide awareness to the dangers of poor electrical wiring in pools and homes that in our case had fatal and tragic consequences. We hope Calder’s story continues to be heard and serves as a deterrent so that this type of preventable accident never happens to anyone else. It is our long-term goal to pursue changes in laws, building codes, and inspections to ensure no other family suffers this unfathomable tragedy.”

Unfortunately, Calder’s case is not an isolated incident. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website, incidents involving underwater pool lighting are more numerous than those involving any other consumer product used in or around pools, spas, and hot tubs.  In 2003, CPSC and the American Red Cross issued a warning of electrocution dangers to swimmers noting that there have been 60 deaths and nearly 50 serious shocks reported over the past 13 years involving electrical hazards in and around swimming pools.

Two weeks following Calder’s death, three children were shocked while swimming at a Miami condominium complex involving an ungrounded pool pump. Fortunately the three children involved survived. Last year, a 27-year old man died from electrocution in a pool at a Hilton hotel in Houston due to a short in the pool light and poor electrical work. In another incident, an 11-year old girl was electrocuted while trying to retrieve a ball from a pond at a time-share resort miniature golf course near Orlando in which building department officials say may have been caused by a possible faulty pump connected to the wrong circuit breaker.

“We are proud of our son’s life spirit and the impact he has had worldwide,” added Sloan. However, it does not take away from the fact that our family and friends have lost an amazing boy with potential to share with the world over his lifetime and generations to come. There are no words strong enough to describe the sense of devastation and sadness we have that our wonderful son, Calder, was robbed of his opportunity to live a long and fruitful life and that his brother will no longer share the powerful brotherly love, friendship, and camaraderie that they had with each other.”

Daniel J. Santaniello of Florida-based Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo & Jones, is serving as co-counsel for the Sloan family.

For more information on Calder’s legacy, visit http://calderslegacy.com/poolsafety/. To view Calder’s tribute video, visit http://vimeo.com/92452244.

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About Colson Hicks Eidson

The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson is a trial firm with more than 40 years of experience handling local, national and international litigation. Partners at the firm have had the distinction of holding the following offices: President of the 60,000-member American Association for Justice; President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers; President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers; President of the Dade County Bar Association; President of the Miami-Dade Florida Association of Women Lawyers; United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and Chairman of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. For more information, call 305-476-7400.

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MIAMI (November 2, 2023) – Colson Hicks Eidson announced today that it has been named in the 2024 list of The Best Law Firms in America. The Miami-based firm has once again received this honor at both the national and metropolitan level. This follows a recent announcement where seven of the firm’s attorneys were named as Best Lawyers in America” for 2024 across a range of fields.

“We strive every day to provide the best possible representation for our clients, and we are honored to continue to receive this recognition for our work,” said Dean C. Colson, Managing Partner of Colson Hicks Eidson.

Best Lawyers, a distinguished peer-review legal publication company, develops The Best Law Firms in America listings through individual lawyer and law firm surveys and firm recognition history. Colson Hicks Eidson is recognized in the following areas.

National Tier 2 (Represents national clients and smaller companies)

  1. Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs

Metropolitan Tier 1 (Scored within a certain percentage of highest-scoring firms in area)

Miami

  1. Bet-the-Company Litigation
  2. Commercial Litigation
  3. Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  4. Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
  5. Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
  6. Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
  7. Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
  8. Insurance Law

Metropolitan Tier 2 (Scored within a certain percentage of the next highest-scoring firms in area)

Miami

  1. Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
  2. Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs

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About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a boutique litigation law firm based in Miami, Florida, serving clients in local, national, and international matters across multiple languages. Practice areas include complex civil and commercial litigation, catastrophic personal injury, medical negligence, product liability, class action, mass tort, and white-collar criminal defense for the most serious and challenging of cases.  Since 1971, the firm and its lawyers have consistently worked to be respected by the state and federal judiciary – securing numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts, judgments, and settlements on behalf of clients. Learn more at www.colson.com.

Colson Hicks Eidson (CHE) is proud to announce its recent involvement in a significant legal matter with statewide implications. Sabrina Saieh, an attorney at CHE, has filed an amicus brief in the First District Court of Appeal in the case of State of Florida, Agency of Health Care Administration v. Alfredo Ivan Murciano, M.D. in support of Dr. Murciano’s brief.

The amicus brief was filed on behalf of CHE senior partner Roberto Martinez, who served on the most recent Florida Constitution Review Commission and was the primary sponsor of an amendment to the Florida Constitution, now found in Article V, Section 21, titled “Judicial Interpretation of Statutes and Rules.” This amendment explicitly prevents courts and Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) from deferring to administrative agencies’ interpretations of state statutes or rules.

The brief urges the First District Court of Appeal to recognize that Article V, Section 21 was added to the Florida Constitution to prevent executive branch agencies, such as the Agency of Health Care Administration (ACHA), from imposing their legal interpretations on the courts and ALJs. The Florida Constitution prohibits ALJs and the courts from accepting mandates from ACHA to adopt their findings of fact or issue orders based on ACHA’s interpretations of statutes and rules that contradict those determined by the ALJs or courts during a de novo review.

This amicus brief underscores CHE’s dedication to defending the integrity of the Florida Constitution and ensuring that judicial interpretation of statutes and rules remains impartial and independent from administrative agencies.

Organizing Committee Appointee  Stephanie Casey formally honored by Judge Altman

MIAMI (September 9, 2023) –  Colson Hicks Eidson, a multilingual complex civil and commercial litigation law firm based in Miami, FL, today congratulated Stephanie A. Casey for her leadership as an ad-hoc organizer of the Florida Southern District’s 6th Biennial Bench and Bar Conference. She was recognized formally by Judge Roy Altman for her remarkable service at the event in Miami Beach on September 9, 2023. 

The Bench and Bar Conference of the Southern District – a collaborative effort between the US District Court and the South Florida Chapters of the Federal Bar Association – brought together legal professionals, judges, and experts in a sold-out event, attracting more than 1,000 attendees. Casey played a pivotal role in organizing this prestigious gathering, which featured a day-long program of engaging panel discussions with esteemed judges, legal experts, and members of the Southern District of Florida’s Bench and Bar.

One of the highlights of the conference was the “Supreme Court Roundup,” featuring distinguished speakers Miguel A. Estrada and Neal Katyal. Additionally, a thought-provoking panel discussion marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision, with Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar, the Honorable Kathleen M. Williams, and the Honorable Robert N. Scola, Jr. 

“We are immensely proud of our partner Stephanie Casey for her exceptional contributions to the 6th Biennial Bench and Bar Conference,” Senior Partner Curt Miner said. “Her leadership and commitment to advancing the legal profession are exactly in line with our firm values, and we look forward to her continued success.”

Casey was appointed to the Southern District’s Bench and Bar Committee by Chief Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in May 2022.  

About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a renowned law firm based in Miami, Florida that is recognized as one of the top trial firms in the United States. Built on a foundation of over 50 years of dedication forging strong client relationships, Colson Hicks Eidson handles local, national, and international litigation, with cases spanning from Miami, Florida, and throughout the United States, to matters in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Europe. Learn more at: www.colson.com.


MIAMI – Colson Hicks Eidson today announced that seven of its lawyers are included in the 2024 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The recognitions are in a wide variety of fields, including Bet-the-Company and Personal Injury Litigation, as well as Criminal Defense: White-Collar.

“The firm is honored that Best Lawyers again recognizes the majority of our attorneys for their exceptional work and dedication to our clients,” said Dean C. Colson, Managing Partner of Colson Hicks Eidson.

Best Lawyers lists of outstanding lawyers are developed through peer review surveys where tens of thousands of lawyers evaluate their professional peers. The seven Colson Hicks Eidson attorneys recognized by Best Lawyers are:

Stephanie A. Casey
Commercial Litigation

Dean C. Colson
Bet-the-Company Litigation
Commercial Litigation
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants
Professional Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs

Lewis S. Eidson
Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs

Julie Braman Kane
Commercial Litigation
Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

Joseph J. Kalbac
Commercial Litigation
Insurance Law
Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs

Roberto Martinez
Bet-the-Company Litigation
Commercial Litigation
Criminal Defense: White-Collar

Curtis B. Miner
Commercial Litigation
Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

“Six of our attorneys have been recognized by Best Lawyers for more than a decade and we are excited to welcome Stephanie Casey as our newest addition to the list,” said Colson.

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About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a renowned law firm based in Miami, Florida, that is recognized as one of the top trial firms in the United States. Built on a foundation of over 50 years of dedication forging strong client relationships, Colson Hicks Eidson handles local, national, and international litigation, with cases spanning from Miami, Florida, and throughout the United States, to matters in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Europe. Learn more at: www.colson.com.

Miami (June 6, 2023) – Colson Hicks Eidson has been recognized as one of the top three trial law firms in Florida in the “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs” category by the respected Chambers and Partners USA Legal Guide for the third year in a row. In addition, five of the Miami-based firm’s attorneys were also ranked individually.

“These rankings are a testament to the dedication and perseverance of our lawyers and our firm’s ability to handle a wide array of cases on behalf of our clients,” said the managing partner of Colson Hicks Eidson, Dean Colson. “As the South Florida business community expands and changes, we’re excited to continue serving new clients with the same spirit of excellence we developed when the firm first opened more than 50 years ago.”

Julie Kane, Stephanie Casey, Curtis Miner, Roberto Martínez, and Mike Eidson were all ranked individually for their work in the “Litigation: Mainly Plaintiffs” category. Miner and Martínez received the top ranking (Band 1), and Martínez also was ranked “Senior Statesperson” in the “White Collar Crime and Government Investigations” area.

The rankings are a result of the firm’s exceptional track record of securing multi-million-dollar judgments and settlements for its clients in areas that include commercial litigation, medical malpractice, products liability, class actions, multi-district litigation, and aviation and automobile accidents. Notably, in the past year, Colson Hicks Eidson secured judgments against four major cruise lines totaling almost half-billion dollars that were the first ever obtained in any case brought under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (the LIBERTAD Act). In those cases, Carnival, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines were found liable for trafficking in the Havana Port Terminal that the Castro government illegally confiscated from the U.S.-owned Havana Docks Corp in 1960. Each cruise line is required to pay Havana Docks approximately $112 million.

The firm’s recent work also ranged from being part of the team of lawyers that secured over $1 billion in settlements for the families of the victims of the Champlain Towers South Condominium collapse to a $5 million jury verdict against Chen Neighborhood Medical Centers of South Florida LLC for failing to accurately diagnose breast cancer in a patient.

“We are proud to receive this recognition as one of the country’s leading trial firms,” said Roberto Martínez. “Our firm is committed to seeking justice in complex legal matters across the world and improving the lives of our clients,” added Curtis Miner.

To schedule a consultation, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at our law office. We have experience in a wide variety of cases for clients located throughout the nation and around the globe.

 

About Colson Hicks Eidson

Colson Hicks Eidson is a renowned law firm based in Miami, Florida, that is recognized as one of the top trial firms in the United States. Built on a foundation of over 50 years of dedication forging strong client relationships, Colson Hicks Eidson handles local, national, and international litigation, with cases spanning from Miami, Florida, and throughout the United States, to matters in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Europe. Learn more at: www.colson.com.

North Carolina (April 20, 2023) – Pennsylvania attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, a Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky founder, has been dubbed in the press as “the master of disasters.” He sends a 45-minute videotape consisting of case-specific liability and damages to the decision maker at the defendant’s insurance company.

“The decision maker is rarely in the room at a settlement conference or the mediation,” Mongeluzzi said. “They’re usually in some corporate tower in Chicago, New York or London. But the one time I know I can talk to them is when we have a settlement film.”

Florida attorney Curtis Mine, a Colson Hicks Eidson partner and an expert in structured settlements, said the Sunshine State “punches above its weight” in consolidating multidistrict litigation and class actions.

“The average time for completion of a civil lawsuit from filing to completion, in past years, the Southern District of Florida is ranked first or second in the country,” Miner said. “As the stakes increase, the defense strength increase.”

While both attorneys litigate differently and in different states, they both share a common thread: They routinely obtain so-called nuclear settlements and practice among the six states, including California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The states account for nearly 65% of the nuclear verdicts, per a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform report.

“Nuclear settlements are a function of nuclear verdicts, and a recognition that going to trial is a risky proposition—both before and now,” said Lee Teichner, a partner at the Am Law 100 firm Holland & Knight.

Nuclear settlements, according to Robert Tyson, managing partner at Tyson & Mendes in San Diego, California, are either more than $10 million or are settlements in which non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, greatly exceed economic damages, such as medical bills.

Tyson explained to defense lawyers how to avoid runaway jury verdicts in his book, “Nuclear Verdicts: Defending Justice for All.”

This year, Tyson plans to publish a sequel with a more data-driven approach to the subject. Tyson has also developed software that uses artificial intelligence to advise insurance companies which of their cases is likely to end in nuclear verdicts.

Focus on Federal Appellate Courts
Thomas R. Kline, a founding partner of Kline & Specter in Pennsylvania, has taught at several law schools, including the Drexel University Thomas Kline School of Law. Kline routinely obtains these nuclear settlements, but objects to the name as a defense bar tactic.

Kline said there are restrictions placed in various states, which prevent jurors from returning eight-figure verdicts, which in turn prevents the lawyers from obtaining an eight-figure settlement. It is an example of the effort by insurance companies or governmental entities to restrict the damages that can be claimed and recovered.

“There’s a ‘Look what Texas is doing’ and then they try to do that in another state,” Kline said. “But each of these settlements are driven by the law in the state in which it is drawn. You can only change it in two ways: convince the highest appeals court or the legislature to change the law.”

And the stakes are high, as Miner of Colson Hicks said that future rulings by the federal appellate courts could change whether nuclear settlements continue to thrive in those six states in which nuclear verdicts abound.

Miner pointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit—an outlier—which entered a ruling last week on what class representative incentive awards are allowed.

The Eleventh Circuit reversed a nearly $10 million settlement over the brain performance supplement Neuriva after finding a class member had standing to object.

The Eleventh Circuit ruling affirmed the precedent set in Johnson v. NPAS Solutions.

The appellate court held that incentive awards for class action representatives that compensate them for their time and reward them for bringing lawsuits are prohibited.

Miner cited the recent trend of success in appeals of settlements based on standing as an example of what could drive defense reform if the concept spreads outside of the Eleventh Circuit.

The result could affect where nuclear verdicts are heard and thereby, without the threat of trial, alter the jurisdiction in which attorneys obtain nuclear settlements.

“The ruling could disincentivize potential victims of consumer fraud or consumer deceptive conduct, participating in class actions,” Miner said. “They may just say, ‘Well, I just don’t want to have to put in that kind of time to do it if there’s nothing for it.”