Defective Product? Woman Files Suit Against Bathtub Manufacturer

An Illinois woman has filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of a walk-in bathtub after falling in the tub and becoming stuck. This is not the first time a person has become stuck in a walk-in tub. A frail 99-year-old woman in Utah survived 22 hours stuck in her bathtub last December.

Walk-in bathtubs are designed to make independent bathing possible for people with limited mobility due to age, illness, disability or size. The bather does not need to step over the side of the bathtub, which could present a falling risk, but instead walks through a door into the tub.

The interior of the tub features a raised area for seating and a smaller area for feet. The door opens inward, which means the door cannot be opened while there is water in the tub. A long pull chain allows the bather to drain the tub.

The woman became wedged in the tub and was unable to get out or to drain the water because the pull chain broke when she attempted to use it. She did not have a call alarm in her bathroom and lived alone. Her daughter found her unconscious in the bathtub the next day. She had been lying in cold water for more than 30 hours.

The woman suffered injuries to her skin from being submerged for so long. She was hospitalized for four days and was in a nursing home for three months. She is seeking a recovery in excess of $50,000 plus legal fees.

Commentators to this news story online have suggested the amount of recovery she is seeking is excessive. They may not have given adequate consideration to the cost of three months of nursing home care or urgent hospital care.

It will now be up to a jury to decide whether a design flaw played a part in the ordeal this woman suffered.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Woman stuck in bathtub for 30 hours, lawsuit charges,” by Stefano Esposito and Michael Lansu, 8/16/2011.