Indianapolis hit with slew of claims after 2012 pool chemical spill

Symptoms ranged from nausea and vomiting to burning eyes and trouble breathing.
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One year after a chemical spill at a city pool sent dozens to the hospital, Eyewitness News has learned the city is facing a slew of legal claims and lawsuits.

The accident could wind up costing the cash-strapped city hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more.

It happened at the Garfield Aquatic Center, June 21, 2012. More than 70 people were went to area hospitals after being exposed to a chlorine gas. Their symptoms ranged from nausea and vomiting to burning eyes and trouble breathing. While most people were treated and released that day, 12 people remained hospitalized overnight.

Indy Parks later attributed the toxic gas to problems with the pool's mechanical system. The pool remained closed for nearly a week while the problems were fixed.

In November, OSHA released findings of its investigation, detailing several violations. Among them:

The pool didn't have a protective device to monitor the flow of chemicals into the water. OSHA issued more than $14,000 in fines that were waived once several fixes were in place.

Since the episode last summer, documents show 44 people have filed claims against the city. So far, 16 have settled with the city paying a total $33,456. Those settlements included requests ranging from $86.97 to $2,282.

But it's the unsettled claims which could cost the city the most. They range from $340 to one family filing three separate claims for $750,000 each for a total of $2,250,000.

The city also faces at least four lawsuits.

Attorney Ken Nunn represents two people: a four-year-old boy whose asthma reportedly worsened after being exposed to the chemicals and a 40-year-old woman who is "having trouble with her lungs and her hair. Her hair is falling out and she's still under a doctor's care."

Nunn said her medical bills are now "$3,000 to $4,000. It wasn't like a hiccup and it's over. It's something ongoing and we don't know if it's permanent. That's the problem. Is it permanent?"

Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young girl. It accuses the city of being negligent, reckless and careless. The suit says "the city knew or should have known that the defective condition of the pools' plumbing works involved an unreasonable risk of harm" and that the child "suffered bodily injuries which are continuing and may be permanent, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life."

By law, the suits don't specify a dollar amount but ask for reasonable compensation.

Asked about the claims and lawsuits against the city, mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter said they don't comment on pending litigation.

An attorney in office of corporation counsel did say it was the most claims against the city for a single incident - in recent history if not longer.