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Trade association liable for negligent standards, Washington court rules.



A trade association that voluntarily sets safety standards Safety standards are standards designed to ensure the safety of products, activities or processes, etc. They may be advisory or compulsory and are normally laid down by an advisory or regulatory body that may be either voluntary or statutory.  and fails to revise them or issue warnings as needed as needed prn. See prn order.  has a duty to act with due care, a Washington appeals court recently ruled in a case of first impression for the state. The duty is triggered after the association becomes aware of a risk posed by the standards. (Meneely v. S.R. Smith, Inc., 5 P.3d 49 (Wash. Ct. App. 2000).)

The court upheld a jury verdict that found the National Spa & Pool Institute (NSPI NSPI National Spa and Pool Institute
NSPI National Spa & Pool Institute
NSPI Name Service Provider Interface (Microsoft)
NSPI Nova Scotia Power Incorporated
NSPI National Society of Performance and Instruction
), a trade association that issues standards for swimming pools and equipment, 60 percent liable for injuries Shawn Meneely suffered in 1991 after he dived into a swimming pool. Meneely broke his neck when his head struck the pool's transition slope, which runs between the floor of the deep end of the pool and the beginning of the pool's shallow end. The fracture paralyzed par·a·lyze  
tr.v. par·a·lyzed, par·a·lyz·ing, par·a·lyz·es
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.

2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear.
 the 16-year-old from the neck down.

Meneely sued NSPI, claiming that it negligently caused his injuries. The lawsuit alleged that while the association's safety standards permitted use of a certain jump board manufactured by S.R. Smith, Inc., with pools the size of the one Meneely dived into, NSPI knew no later than 1971 that the diving board and pool combination was dangerous.

On appeal, a unanimous three-judge panel held that "by promulgating industry-wide safety standards that pool and board manufacturers relied upon, NSPI voluntarily assumed the duty to warn duty to warn AIDS A legal concept indicating that a health care provider who learns that an HIV-infected Pt is likely to transmit the virus to another identifiable person must take steps to warn that person  Meneely and other divers of the risk posed by this type of board [and] ... pool. It failed to exercise reasonable care in performing that duty when it did not change the standard after it knew that studies showed the pool and board combination was dangerous."

Chief Judge John Schulteis, who wrote for the panel, referred to a similar Alabama Supreme Court The Supreme Court of Alabama is the highest court in the state of Alabama. The court consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, elected in partisan elections for staggered six year terms.  case, King v. National Spa & Pool Institute, Inc. (570 So. 2d 612 (Ala. 1990).) The King court stated that "one who undertakes to perform a duty [that it] is not otherwise required to perform is thereafter charged with the duty of acting with due care." (Trade Association Liable for Weak Standards, Alabama Court Rules, TRIAL, Feb. 1991, at 14.)

The case is currently on appeal to the Washington Supreme Court The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the U.S. state of Washington. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Justices. Members of the Court are elected to six-year terms. Justices must retire at the age of 75. .
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Author:Reichert, Jennifer L.
Publication:Trial
Geographic Code:1U9WA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:369
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