Kalahari sued for drowning of 3-year-old in August

Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:35 PM | Contributed by Juggalotus

A Dearborn family has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Kalahari Resorts water park of negligence and poor planning in the Aug. 2 death of 3-year-old Hassan Itani. The family is seeking at least $75,000 for medical and funeral bills and for mental anguish over Hassan's death in their suit filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Toledo. Kalahari officials have 20 days to respond.

Read more from The Detroit News.

Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:46 PM
sws's avatar

First off, it is tragic when a child dies in any accident. That being said, Kalahari should jump at the opportunity to settle for only $75,000, make necessary changes so that it can't happen again, and allow everyone to move on. This would be a minimal settlement in a potential wrongful death suit involving a child. Legal costs alone would likely far exceed that amount.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009 10:57 PM
DaveStroem's avatar

I totally agree.

Requesting $75,000 to settle this seems almost an insult to the child's memory. IMO they don't have a very good attorney to ask for such a pittance.

Why would this be a federal lawsuit?


Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009 11:01 PM
LostKause's avatar

Although no monetary value could ever bring the child back, that seems like a really low amount to ask for.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009 11:34 PM

Its in federal court because the parties are from different states. Plaintiffs probably could not sue in a Michigan court. Michigan residents suing a company located in Ohio in Ohio courts may not be viewed as a good option for plaintiffs based on bias concerns. There is also a minimum dollar amount being sought for federal courts which I believe is $75,000 which would explain the dollar amount being sought.

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Friday, November 13, 2009 2:41 AM

I don't think the plaintiffs believe they would have much of a chance winning a jury trial. Look at all of the comments that follow the article. With few exceptions, they question where the parents were when this happened. Not exactly the most sympathetic jury one could ask for.

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Friday, November 13, 2009 6:28 AM

So because this seems "reasonable" now we should just admit were negligent and pay up? Are you kidding me? Who says that Kalahari was negligent? I don't see where there is any implied guarantee that the park will prevent any and all accidents.

Sws, you make it seem like the park actually owes the family this and your comment implies that the park can actually guarantee ones safety. What reality do you live in?

Clearly, the public doesn't understand the purpose of the lifeguards. They aren't there so the parents can take a break from supervising. I think this incident, like so many others, begs the question- "Where were the parents?"

I think if you were going to attempt to prove someone was negligent you'd have a much easier time pointing the finger at the parents instead of Kalahari.

Last edited by egieszl, Friday, November 13, 2009 1:00 PM
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Friday, November 13, 2009 8:21 AM

^ +1

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Friday, November 13, 2009 11:27 AM

It is very sad that this happened and my heart goes out to the family. But I do believe a parent should have kept better track of a 3 year old. I'm a parent and wouldn't let one of my kids at age 3 out of my sight around a pool. Yes, I would be on constant watch, that's my job as a parent. I never understood why people want money in these circumstances. Why doesn't anyone ever sue for a mandatory change in the way things are done? Yes, that goes along with the money damages but how is any amount of money going to make you feel better? IMO it's an insult to a child's memory to put a price tag on the grief you experienced. These parents know deep down inside it's their fault and they will have to live with that the rest of their lives. I know I would never forgive myself if this happened to one of my children. It seems many are afraid that feeling bad for a family clouds the real reason something happened.

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Friday, November 13, 2009 1:26 PM

Maybe they should have taught their 3 yr old how to swim??

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Friday, November 13, 2009 2:18 PM
WildStangAlex's avatar

Ultimately this accident is the responsibility of the facility in which it occured, and for them to settle for $75,000 would be a really low amount, and they should accept it. That being said, they need to step it up a lot when it comes to lifeguarding to make sure an incident like this never happens again.


"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
-Joseph Campbell

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Friday, November 13, 2009 6:19 PM

Ultimately? What is that supposed to mean. If someone dies in your facility, regardless of cause, it's the facilities fault?

So, if I'm walking in a park, trip on my shoelace and break my leg, the park is ultimately responsible?

Statements and attitudes like this just go to show how challenging and costly it's going to be to conduct business in the United States in the future. I like this. "If my child drowns in the waterpark, it's not my problem. It's the park's problem."

The fact is swimming pools are one of the most dangerous places for young children. I don't care if they increase the number of lifeguards by 100 times, there is still the potential for a deadly accident. I've learned from my 1-year-old nephew, if you take your eyes off of him for only a couple of a seconds, he can get into serious trouble that fast.

Ultimately, in all situations involving a child, it is the parents who are responsible for that child's well being until they're a legal adult.

I love how the parenting responsibilities now are just getting passed on to others.

Last edited by egieszl, Friday, November 13, 2009 6:21 PM
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Friday, November 13, 2009 6:47 PM

I don't think Kalahari should be sued at all. It's the parents fault for not watching their child, and also the parents fault the child had no life vest on. But ofcourse, in the land of America, whenever something happens like this, the child's victim in this case will always go after the money.


Brandon James
Cedar Point Employee 2006-2009

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Friday, November 13, 2009 7:06 PM
Kenmei's avatar

Actually I thought I remembered back when this happened that the family admitted that though sad, it was a mutual fault on their own part as well as the park's. As I recall (and I could be wrong) the park was understaffed, which does cost a problem, but the parent on hand with the child wasn't paying attention at that moment either.

It's a sad story either way. I imagine they are merely suing for funeral costs and the like.


Watch out for flying maps!

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Friday, November 13, 2009 11:18 PM
LostKause's avatar

Although I do place some blame on the mother, it has been reported that Kalahari has had poor lifeguard training and was understaffed. When you go to a waterpark, you expect a certain level of safety, which is to be provided by the lifeguards. I can't say for certain that the lifeguards were aware enough of the guests that they were supposed to protect on that day, so I place equal blame on each party.


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Saturday, November 14, 2009 6:52 AM

The water park shouldn't pay up. It's the parents responsibility to keep thier kinds in check and not wander off. In America, we have taken the personal responsbility from the parents and the individual themselves and placed it in the hands of the government and the places we go to. Thge parents admitted that it was thier own fault and they should live with the consequences and not blame others for thier kid's death.

A couple of years ago, I attended a free concert at one of the downtown parks. I misstepped and broke my right ankle in 3 places. Do I get to sue the city for my own accident? NO. I learned from my mistake and lived with the pain ever since.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009 10:36 AM
WildStangAlex's avatar

Can I ask then if it's the families fault, why do lifeguards exist? These facilities can save millions of dollars by eliminating their lifeguard staff, since they are obviously not the ones responsible for saving lives. Right?


"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
-Joseph Campbell

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Saturday, November 14, 2009 10:59 AM
LostKause's avatar

Majorcut, was the pavement cracked or somehow messed up where you mis-stepped? If so, then, yes, you could have sued. One expects a certain level of safety in a public place.

Life...

...Guards.

If it was clear that the lifeguards were not present because they were understaffed, then of course it's partially the parks fault. I'll say it again... One expects a certain level of safety in a public place.


Edited for spelling

Last edited by LostKause, Saturday, November 14, 2009 3:48 PM
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Saturday, November 14, 2009 12:19 PM

That's the problem with this country, everyone will try to sue for everything. Maybe if the parents were watching their 3 year old, the child wouldn't have drown. If I had a 3 year old, it would never leave my sight. I do feel bad that they lost their child but it's not Kalahari's fault. So they think getting this check for this money they will feel any better?


Cedar Point The Amazement Park
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Saturday, November 14, 2009 1:37 PM

But thats true pretty much any time you sue for non-monetary damages. You can't bring someone back who has died, You can't give someone the use of their limps back (at least not typically). You can't undo the weeks/months/years of pain and suffering that someone endures because of an injury. Money is all you can do. And for the person suffering the loss (or their family), no amount of money will ever be sufficient. But as a society, we put dollar amounts on those types of losses.

None of that is to say that the park was negligent or should have any liability in this case. I haven't seen enough info to make any type of determination. Though from the info that I have seen, I think the parents bear the majority of the responsibility as I understand the parents were away from the child who was not wearing a life jacket. At the age of 3, my kids were never in the water without either my wife or myself right by their side and they usually had flotation devices. When we took my daugther to a water park when she was 6 or 7, she wore a life jacket the entire day. At the time she could swim but we just didn't think it was worth the chance with so many opportunities for trouble in the water all day long.

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