Meadowbrook Aquatic Center License Renewal Did Not Include Accountability for Lifeguard Lapse in Louis Lowenthal Drowning

Published April 24th, 2013, Uncategorized

The Baltimore Health Department yesterday fulfilled my public information request for records of Meadowbrook Aquatic Center’s original public pool license applications and its most recent annual renewals. The 64 pages of documents are viewable at http://muchnick.net/meadowbrookrecords.pdf.

The main reason I sought these documents was to see if the renewal process includes questions about unusual events or accidents in a pool’s operation the previous year. The answer is that it does not. The renewal application is a pro forma submission of updated paperwork, accompanied by fees.

This means that the October 31, 2012, incident report submitted by Meadowbrook to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene appears to be the only place where Meadowbrook owner Murray Stephens and the leadership of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (including Meadowbrook general manager John Cadigan) might account for the lapse in lifeguard coverage that allowed an unconscious 14-year-old Louis Lowenthal to go undetected in the outdoor pool, one of three in the Meadowbrook complex.

So there appear to be only two possible sources of further public information. One would be discovery in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit, should the family choose to file one. (I have not spoken to the family and I have no knowledge of their intentions, or of whether they have already come to an undisclosed settlement with Meadowbrook.)

The other source would be if I were to mount a legal appeal of the state’s extensive redactions in the public release of the incident report, and prevail. I am still studying that possibility. Any readers who have more knowledge in this area — especially the ins and outs of the Maryland Public Information Act — can contact me at tips@muchnick.net.

Ancillary questions raised by the release of Meadowbrook’s renewal applications are: (a) What are each of the three pools’ annual renewal dates? and (b) Were the 2013 renewals shown in this package timely or tardy? Neither the city nor Meadowbrook’s Cadigan responded to a query about this.

 
Irv Muchnick