Suit claims lifeguard was on cellphone when man drowned
EDWARDSVILLE — A trial date of Nov. 5 is set for a case in which the Holishor Association is being sued by the estate of a Swansea man who drowned in a swimming area while a lifeguard allegedly was using her cellphone.
Lashonda Jenkins, administrator of the estate of Willie Batee, 45, claims the lifeguard hired by Holishor was not paying attention.
"The lifeguard had been on her cellphone throughout the day and was using her cellphone for talking or texting before and/or at the time the incident occurred," the suit claims.
The lifeguard is not named in the suit.
The incident occurred July 25, 2009, in the beach area of Holiday Shore Club House Beach at 1 Holiday Point Parkway in Holiday Shores.
There were several people at the beach and one lifeguard working, the suit claims.
Court documents state Batee went under, and the lifeguard was unable to locate him. Divers located his body an hour later. An autopsy confirmed drowning as the cause of death.
The suit claims the association failed to administer proper rescue skills, failed to provide adequate supervision, failed to train its lifeguards and other shortcomings in its operation.
The association has claimed that there is no common law duty to protect adult swimmers in Illinois. The defense also has filed a document arguing that the defendant owed no duty to warn the swimmers because the lake presented "an open and obvious condition."
Holishor argues that because of the victim's age and experience as a swimmer, he was aware of the dangers of swimming in the lake; therefore, the association had no duty to warn or protect him.
However, Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian denied the defendant's motion to dismiss on May 4. The court did acknowledge that the defendant owed no common law duty to protect an adult swimmer.
The plaintiff has argued in court documents that the presence of a lifeguard represents a voluntary acceptance of responsibility.
The plaintiff is represented by Mike Glisson of Alton. The association is represented by Gordon Broom of Edwardsville.