Jacuzzi Tub Lawsuits Highlight Safety Concerns for Elderly

by Charles Harvey Allen on Feb. 08, 2019

Accident & Injury Products Liability Accident & Injury  Wrongful Death Accident & Injury  Personal Injury 

Summary: More and more elderly Americans are purchasing walk-in water jet bathtubs. However, many Americans are not aware of the dangers that these type of products can cause.

Water jet bathtubs like those manufactured by Jacuzzi can provide a relaxing and therapeutic experience. Jacuzzi bathtubs are so common these days that the brand name “Jacuzzi” is often used interchangeably with “water jet tub.” Jacuzzi and other manufacturers of tubs with water jets have historically targeted senior customers, as well as the disabled, by emphasizing the “hydrotherapy” benefits of their tubs, such as improved blood circulation and reduced swelling and inflammation.
In recent years, Jacuzzi and other water jet bathtub manufacturers have produced walk-in bathtubs that they claim are much safer than traditional bathtubs because they reduce the risk that the user will fall while he or she is getting in and out of the bathtub. However, a growing number of incidents in Jacuzzi walk-in bathtubs, including two fatal incidents, demonstrate that these walk-in bathtubs may actually be more dangerous than traditional bathtubs. 
If your loved one was injured or killed in a water jet or walk-in bathtub, you should immediately contact a personal injury lawyer. Charles Allen of Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC is representing the Smith and Cunnison families who tragically lost their family members in two separate fatal Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub incidents. Charles is highly experienced in defective products law and Jacuzzi bathtub injuries. He will thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you regarding the best course of action to achieve justice for your loved one’s injuries or death, including whether a wrongful death attorney may be able to make a wrongful death claim. 

Smith v. Jacuzzi & Cunnison v. Jacuzzi
The Smith family is suing Jacuzzi, the walk-in tub retailer, and the tub installation company for the death of Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub user Mack Smith. On Dec. 12, 2016, Mack slid off of the edge of the walk-in bathtub’s seat onto his back and became wedged underwater in the footwell of the Jacuzzi tub. Barbara, Mack’s wife, eventually discovered him after hearing his cries for help, but she could not free him since the tub’s door only opened inward. Barbara called 911, but Mack tragically drowned before the 911 responders arrived. As a result of Mack’s awful death, Trace and Brian Smith, Mack’s relatives, are suing Jacuzzi. 

The Smiths contend that the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub is dangerously defective for several reasons, including the design of the inward bathtub door, the sloped seat, and the distance the user has to reach to access the bathtub controls. Allen & Scofield Injury Lawyers, LLC hired ATA Associates, Inc. an accident reconstruction and forensic engineering firm to determine whether the Jacuzzi walk-in tub is safe for the elderly and disabled. Part of ATA Associates’ investigation included hiring test subjects to use the bathtub and comment upon their experiences. Close to 75 percent of the individuals found at least one serious problem with the tub’s design. ATA Associates conducted its own independent testing of the bathtub and agrees with the Smiths that the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub is dangerously unsafe. 

Mack is unfortunately not the first person to lose his life in a Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub. In 2014, Sherry Cunnison also becomes stuck in the footwell of the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub. Sherry could not escape from the tub because of the inward facing door. Sherri was trapped in the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub for multiple days until she was discovered by EMS responders. The responders had to cut the tub apart with a saw to remove Sherri from the tub. Sherri was transported to the hospital and died several days later. Her family also filed a lawsuit against Jacuzzi, the walk-in tub retailer, and the tub installation company.  

Is My Walk-In Tub Defective?

There are three broad types of product defects:
  • Design Defects: In a design defect, every manufactured product is hazardous. None of them are as safe as they could be for their intended purpose. For example, in Mack Smith's case, the sloped design of the seat made it easy for a slip and fall accident to occur.
  • Manufacturing Defects: In a manufacturing defect, something has gone wrong during the creation process. One or more products do not adhere to the intended design, and this alteration makes the product dangerous.
  • Warning/Marketing Defects: Some products come with inherent risks. In these situations, the manufacturers and retailers are responsible for providing adequate instructions and warnings regarding how the product should and should not be used.
The Smiths and Cunnisons contend that the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub is defectively designed because it is inherently unsafe for seniors. They also contend that the Jacuzzi walk-in bathtub did not have appropriate instructions or warnings. 

Jacuzzi Is Not the Only Walk-In Tub Manufacturer

Jacuzzi is the most well-known manufacturer of walk-in jet tubs. However, there are many more walk-in tub manufacturers and brands including:
  • Safe Step Walk In Tub Co.
  • Premier Baths, Inc.
  • Spa World Corporation
  • Midwest Tubs
  • Universal Tubs
  • MediTub
  • Safety Tubs Company, LLC
  • Koehler Co.
  • Aquassure Accessible Baths
  • Ariel Bath
  • Therapeutic Tubs
Several of these brands manufacture walk-in tubs that have one or more similar defects to Jacuzzi’s walk-in tub, such as doors that open inward that can potentially trap a senior or a disabled user. It is also noteworthy that some of these manufacturers produce walk-in tubs with outward swinging doors that are specifically intended for emergency access.  

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