The family of Nabila Maazouz, 14, recently filed a lawsuit over her drowning death in November 2019.
In 2019, a 14-year-old girl drowned at Hillsboro Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center. Now, her family has filed a $70 million lawsuit against Hillsboro School District, the city, and others over allegations that their negligence led to the child’s death.
The 14-year-old drowning victim was Nabila Maazouz. She was a freshman at Oregon Episcopal School and part of the Liberty High School swim team. On November 20, 2019, she was “found dead under a pool cover after a swim team practice.”
What happened? How did the child get stuck under the cover? The lawsuit, which was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, states that when the practice ended, “the team’s coach instructed swimmers to cover the pool with heavy covers that create suction when rolled onto the water.”
According to the suit, “Maazouz and several other swimmers grabbed one pool cover and swam with it to the deep end of the pool.” It adds that the swimmers “swam under the cover back toward the other end of the pool where they grabbed a second pool cover, swimming with it to the deep end and placing it next to the first cover.” The suit states that while her team members swam under the second cover, Maazouz did not resurface. Unfortunately, the swim team “continued to cover the pool without noticing Maazouz’s disappearance,” according to the suit.
When the pool was completely covered, the coaches and swimmers turned off the lights and left. Patricia Maazouz, the child’s mother, “was waiting in the facility’s parking lot when she noticed team members leaving without her daughter,” the suit notes. When her daughter didn’t appear, Mrs. Maazouz went inside and asked the “coaches and facility staff where her daughter was.” After searching the facility, Nabila was “found dead under the pool covers in the deep end of the pool.”
According to the lawsuit, “the design of the ThermGard pool covers were unreasonably dangerous…allowing Maazouz to become trapped underneath.” In fact, there were warnings printed on the covers about the dangers they posed, though the suit argues they “were not adequate and violated industry standards.”
Universal Filtration Inc. is the company that manufactures the ThermGard pool cover. BK Reilly & Co. was the seller of the company. Both were named as defendants in the suit. The Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department and Hillsboro School District are also defendants and were allegedly negligent “in allowing the use of the pool covers, allowing swimmers to swim underneath the covers, not properly training staff, swimmers and staff about how to safely use the covers, not having lifeguards on duty, and not noticing Maazouz did not resurface.”
When commenting on the tragic incident, Patrick Preston, a city spokesperson, said:
“Our hearts remain with the Maazouz family and everyone in our community who has been devastated by the tragic death of Nabila…The City of Hillsboro is committed to caring for the safety and well-being of all community members at all city facilities.”
Beth Graser, a spokesperson for the school district, also chimed in and said:
“Nabila’s death was a tragedy that we are all still grieving. Our hearts and thoughts continue to go out to her family and all who knew her.”