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Record Setting Verdict Rendered in Westmoreland County Swimming Pool Case

Mar 15, 2022 - News by Terrance R. Henne

On Friday, March 11, 2022 a jury in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA rendered a verdict in the case of Michael Fraser vs. Robert and Laura O’Black.  This verdict, the largest in Westmoreland County history, was for $19 Million Dollars.

The plaintiff, Michael Fraser, a 21 year old young man, was attending a holiday party at the O’Black residence on July 6, 2013.  According to the testimony, the O’Blacks were utilizing a five foot rubber raft in the pool.  The plaintiff argued the raft was not designed to be used in the swimming pool and the defendants were negligent for doing so.  The defendants were also alleged to have been negligent by covering up a warning affixed to the raft indicating the raft was not to be used for diving.  When the plaintiff dove into the pool, he contacted the rubber raft and was propelled into the water where he subsequently struck his head and broke his neck. The plaintiff is now a quadriplegic with very limited use of his upper extremities.  He was represented by Michael Calder, Esquire of Rosen & Perry, a personal injury law firm located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The defendants argued that the plaintiff alone was negligent and therefore, solely responsible for his injuries. The defendants also argued that the plaintiff made the choices connected with the dive and should not recover from the homeowners. The defendants were represented by Robert Loch, Esquire from Robb Leonard Mulvihill.

The Honorable Henry Smail, Jr. presided over the 5 day trial.  The following is a breakdown of the jury award:

  • $9 M for past and future medical expenses
  • $3 M for pain, suffering and inconvenience
  • $3 M for the loss of life’s pleasures
  • $3 M for embarrassment
  • $1 M for disfigurement

The jury found the plaintiff 30% negligent and the homeowners 70% negligent.

For more information on this case or for assistance on your case, please contact one of the experienced attorneys in our Premises Liability Group at