Case: Baker v. Sta-Rites Industries, Alexandria, Virginia
Synopsis: Virginia Graeme Baker, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker III, died in a drowning accident in June of 2002. The drowning occurred as a result of Baker becoming trapped underwater by a powerful spa suction pump.
Result: A confidential drowning accident settlement was reached between the plaintiff and the defendant, Sta-Rite Industries, who manufactures the pump. Virginia's death helped push forth legislation to help prevent deaths similar to hers, including one law with her namesake - the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA).
Virginia Graeme Baker was seven years old in 2002 when she attended a family graduation party in Virginia. The party, whose focus appeared to be the pool and hot tub present on the property, would end tragically.
It wasn't until one of Baker's siblings alerted the parents before it was noticed that Graeme had been underwater in the hot tub for a long time. When initially attempting to retrieve Graeme from the spa, her mother Nancy learned that her daughter's hair had become trapped in the spa's drain. Only with the help of two other adults were they able to bring Virginia back to the surface. Baker was flown to a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, but she could not be revived after drowning.
The family took legal action against the manufacturer of the spa pump, Sta-Rite Industries, and ultimately reached a confidential settlement. However, this was not the only case levied against the pool equipment manufacturer. In fact, the Haggard Law Firm has also litigated another suction entrapment case against Sta-Rite revolving around the same type of pool pump (Peterson v. Sta-Rite.)