Blackburn Ltd. P'ship v. PaulAnnotate this Case
Three-year-old Christopher Paul suffered severe injuries after nearly drowning in a pool at an apartment complex near his parents’ home. Christopher’s mother filed a complaint against the owner and manager of the apartments and the operator of the pool (collectively, Petitioners), alleging that Petitioners breached a duty to maintain the pool in a reasonably safe condition and breached statutory and regulatory duties by failing to comply with pool regulations set forth in state and county codes. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Petitioners based in part on Christopher’s status as a trespasser when he entered the pool area. The court of special appeals reversed, holding (1) Petitioners were required to comply with the relevant regulations and statutory provisions concerning pool barriers, which were “designed to create a cause of action in tort for the protection of the swimming public”; and (2) a defendant need not owe a common-law duty to a plaintiff before violation of a statute can be used as evidence of negligence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners’ alleged violation of the Code of Maryland Regulations, if proven, would demonstrate the breach of a duty from Petitioners to Christopher; and (2) such a duty, derived from statute, would apply irrespective of Christopher’s legal status on the property when the incident occurred.