Court dismisses drowning lawsuit on recreational immunity

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By Correne Martin

A wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Prairie du Chien and the Prairie du Chien Area School District for the Aug. 2, 2017, drowning of a 4-year-old boy in the city’s outdoor swimming pool was dismissed in Crawford County court Monday.

Based on Wisconsin Recreational Immunity laws, substitute judge Craig Day ruled to dismiss the claims, brought by Rachael and Kurt Warrington Jr., parents of Kashton, (and the North Central Regional Council of Carpenters Health Fund), against both defendants. Day also ruled the case dismissed since the school district was not properly served court documents.

According to Wisconsin Statute 895.52, regarding recreational activities, recreational immunity is meant to “limit the liability of property owners toward others who use their property for recreational activities under circumstances in which the owner does not derive more than a minimal pecuniary benefit.” The statute further says “no owner and no officer, employee or agent of an owner is liable for the death of, any injury to, or any death or injury caused by, a person engaging in a recreational activity on the owner’s property.”

The Warrington family’s claims are a result of the occurrence at the Wacouta Aquatic Park on Aug. 2, 2017, when some lifeguards and an off-duty doctor pulled Kashton from the outdoor pool just before 6:15 p.m., during swimming lessons. The boy died at a La Crosse hospital two days later.

The Warringtons claimed their son died because the city and school district were negligent in their supervision and custody of him during level 1 swimming lessons, which were held in conjunction with summer school classes.

The family has five days to file any objections to the dismissal decision. As of Tuesday, Crawford County had no new filings in the case.

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