January 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Injured By Pool Drain, Girl To Get $30.9 Million

Associated Press

A girl who was disemboweled when her bottom became pinned to the drain of a kiddie pool will receive a total of $30.9 million under a settlement announced Tuesday.

Most of Valerie Lakey’s small and large intestines were sucked out in the 1993 accident, and the girl, now 9, must spend at least 11 hours a day being fed intravenously.

On Monday, a state jury awarded the family $25 million in compensatory damages, the biggest personalinjury verdict in North Carolina history. The jury was to begin deciding whether to award punitive damages when the maker of the drain cover, Sta-Rite Industries of Delavan, Wis., agreed to a settlement adding $5.9 million more.

Valerie, then 5, was playing in the recreation club’s wading pool in Cary when she became stuck against the drain cover. Her father, David, and three other adults could not dislodge her, and turning off the pump failed to ease the pressure.

Family attorney John Edwards said similar accidents killed a California child in 1974 and another North Carolina child in 1981.

“This hazard exists in public swimming pools everywhere in the United States,” he said.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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