In August of 2015, Dale Scott Calverley of Wayland, Massachusetts visited Buttermilk Falls in the Long Lake area with his wife and three children. Tragically, he would lose his life that same day while swimming in a part of Raquette River.
Documents from the original lawsuit filed by the victim's loved ones show that the family inquired in the nearby area about potential swimming spots and Buttermilk Falls was mentioned. However, what was not mentioned to them at that time was the potential to lose their lives in the same place. Indeed, at least three others have lost their lives in the same area of the river - one in 2014, another in 2018, and most recently in 2019.
It is reported that Mr. Calverley was swimming in the area when he waded over under the falls themselves. A strong underwater current is believed to have held the victim underwater or at least prevented him from swimming back to shore, and ultimately caused him to drown. The State Police report indicated just this - "accidental drowning due to failure to escape and underwater current."
Upon the filing of the lawsuit, the defendants presented a motion to dismiss the claim as they believed the victim should have known of the dangers that lurked below the surface. It is not clear from documents whether there is signage at the site warning of the undercurrent hazard.
Recently, a panel of appellate division justices ruled that the lawsuit could move forward, as there are at least some grounds for the plaintiff's allegations. Specifically, the defendant is likely aware of the dangerous conditions and could have taken further steps to warn visitors, especially given the fact that lives have already been lost in a similar fashion.
While this ruling is a good start for the surviving family members who are seeking justice and closure after the tragedy, this drowning accident lawsuit is far from resolved.
When eager vacationers pack up and hit the road to visit the breathtaking state parks that our country has to offer, they do so understanding the downsides they may encounter. Among these could be traffic on the highway, long lines at the parks themselves, and maybe even a family quarrel or two.
However, what no state or national park visitor ever expects is for the life of a loved one to be lost during such adventures. Regrettably, lives are claimed each and every year at the varied parks throughout our nation.
When an individual loses their life in a drowning at a park, there exists the possibility to seek compensation via the civil justice system. This is not to say that victims and their loved ones should take legal action frivolously - in fact, the exact opposite is true. Deciding to file a lawsuit after a drowning at a state park is a very personal and serious decision.
Yet, the repercussions from such drowning accidents can bring unimaginable financial pressures upon the family of the deceased. Medical bills, funeral costs, and loss of income can all pile on top of the emotional trauma that is already felt by family members who have lost their loved ones. In many instances, filing such a legal claim is the only way that affected families are able to continue moving ahead with their lives without unwarranted, crippling debt.
Just because an injury or drowning has occurred does not mean that the victim and their dependents will receive financial compensation. It takes an experienced legal team to build a case that proves negligence. Negligence must often be proven because it is the legal foundation upon which a successful wrongful death lawsuit is built. Essentially, without negligence, it is nearly impossible to prove that wrongdoing on behalf of one party (the defendant) caused damages to another (the plaintiff.)
Negligence in a state park drowning lawsuit could include:
If you're considering filing a drowning accident lawsuit, get in touch with our experienced aquatic attorneys today to learn more about the viability of your case. Our legal consultations are always free, and we always work on a contingency-fee-basis, so if we're not able to secure compensation on your behalf, you will owe us nothing.