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Missouri Boy’s Water Park Drowning Death Sparks New Law

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Southern California is the land of amusement parks. There are probably more water parks – public and private – here than in most parts of this country given our year-round good weather and constant flow of tourism. But how many of us think about liability insurance before we send our children to these places or even when we take them to visit a private water park?

This week, a Missouri state lawmaker is proposing new legislation requiring private water parks to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, according to an article in the Insurance Journal. This after a 6-year-old boy from Joplin drowned last summer in one of the water parks, which was under the radar of state regulation. Ethan Cory’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Swimmin’ Hole, the water park, and the Boys and Girls Club of Joplin, that was supervising the children during their field trip to the park.

Ethan’s mother, Lauren Cory, is lobbying for the bill, which she hopes will protect all children and families. The family’s lawsuit also alleges that there was no adequate supervision at the water park when their son drowned. The owner of the water park simply told the magazine that getting $1 million in liability insurance would cost him $72,000 a year and that he simply couldn’t afford it. He also told reporters that he didn’t see how it could be beneficial for a businessman like him to have liability insurance.

Are you kidding me? The business owner’s cold attitude in this case just makes it crystal clear why businesses must be policed. They simply will not police themselves. When enforcement is lax, it just creates an environment for businesses to cut corners in an attempt to maximize profits. We hope for the sake of the Corys and all families with children that this bill passes and holds these private businesses accountable for their actions.

We also hope that the boy’s family gets a fair compensation for their irreparable loss and that the water park’s owner is made to pay if he had been negligent as the lawsuit alleges. For the parents, this is not about the money. The cash is not going to bring their little boy back. But if this bill becomes law and if the water park owner is held responsible, then they will have a sense of closure and some comfort that Ethan’s death led to positive change that will save hundreds of young lives in the future.

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