Lawsuit Follows Tragedy

Did NEC violations lead to a tragic teenage death? 

An electric motor repair company is being sued for claims of negligence in a tragic North Carolina death.

Rachel Rosoff died on Sept. 3 in a public pool where she worked, in the Heritage Point neighborhood of Raleigh, N.C. The 17-year-old lifeguard was electrocuted and drowned that Labor Day weekend. Her parents and attorney filed a lawsuit Monday against two electrical companies, saying their substandard work let to her death.

Authorities eventually determined that improper ground wiring in the pool’s electrical system didn’t trip a circuit breaker when the pump motor failed, allowing the water in the pool to become electrified.

The lawsuit, filed by Rosoff’s parents on what would have been her 18th birthday, names both a Raleigh electric motor repair company and a Raleigh electrical company as defendants. It claims that work performed by the repair company in June 2011 violated the National Electrical Code.

At the time of the accident, the Heritage Point pool had been inspected three times in 2016 for health and safety issues but an electrical inspection hadn’t happened since the pool was built in 1979. The lawsuit alleges that the installation work done in 2011 by the repair company required that the aluminum wiring that had been in place since 1979 be replaced, but the company failed to do so. The lawsuit also claims that the repair company did not have a permit for the work performed and did not have the work inspected, as required by law.

The lawsuit alleges that the electrical company installed the wrong size capacitor in the pool’s pump motor, causing it to fail and overheat on the day Rosoff drowned and that employees found safety hazards at the pool that they should have reported and didn’t.

“What happened to Rachel could just as easily have happened when the pool was filled with children,” attorney David Kirby said. “We need to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.” Under current law, electrical systems at public pools are required to be inspected only when the pools first open, but Rosoff’s family is lobbying for annual electrical inspections.

House Bill 598, which was filed Wednesday, would require a new electrical inspection for every public swimming pool across North Carolina. Wake County alone is estimated to have more than 1,100 public pools. The state Department of Health and Human Services last month recommended to county health departments statewide that licensed electricians be hired to routinely inspect pool electrical systems. Wake County, North Carolina pool inspectors said they would provide the DHHS memo to all pool operators with their yearly inspection fee invoice, but any electrical inspections would be up to individual operators.

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