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Tragic Drowning Case May Lead to Increased Swimming Pool Regulation

Howard Jefferson / Flickr
The victims' families say the deaths could have been prevented by adequate underwater lighting, so as to see to the bottom of the pool.

At an evening camp event in 2010, two teenage boys drowned at the Pella Aquatics Center. Their families filed a claim for negligence against the City of Pella, arguing that the deaths could have been prevented by adequate underwater lighting.

"The lights in the swimming pool apparently were not on that night," says Todd Pettys, of the University of Iowa College of Law. "You couldn't see down to the bottom of the pool."

Nearly five years after the incident, the Iowa Supreme Court considered the question: Are cities liable when employees of city-inspected pools are careless?

"According to a majority of the court - yes," says Pettys. "I would imagine that at swimming pools all across the state, the folks running them are taking a closer look, and I would hope, holding training sessions about what is required of them."

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Pettys to discuss the questions recently answered by the Iowa Supreme Court, including the case of a malfunctioning penny slot machine that told the gambler she had 41 million dollars, challenges to Iowa's telemedicine abortion law, and an answer to the question - "Do you have the right to be drunk on your own front porch?"

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River