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Jury's decision in dive stick case starts new debate

Published November 3, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - A jury made a curious decision Thursday in the case of a Largo boy injured by a pool toy made by a Clearwater company and sold by Wal-Mart.

The six-person jury found both companies negligent and partially responsible for 3-year-old Marcus Zunner's impalement by a dive stick six years ago, but, strangely, the jury didn't give the boy any money in compensatory damages. Then the jury indicated it believed that both Wal-Mart and Florida Pool Products Inc. should pay punitive damages. But under the law, punitive damages cannot be awarded if compensatory damages aren't given.

Lawyers for Wal-Mart and Florida Pool suggested that Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Amy Williams tell the jury to fix their verdict form. But the boy's lawyers told Williams she should declare a mistrial.

Williams told lawyers on both sides to come to court this morning with arguments for both positions. She then will make a decision.

Marcus, now 9, was playing in a shallow pool when the dive sticks impaled his rectum. He suffered serious injuries and underwent complex medical procedures, though lawyers disagree on how much medical trouble he will face in the future.

Lawyers for the companies said Marcus' mother was negligent when she bought the sticks for a shallow pool. They also said Marcus' grandparents weren't supervising him closely enough the day he was injured.

[Last modified November 3, 2006, 05:54:49]

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