Lawsuit over drowning of minor at Chief Logan State Park settled for $925K

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 6, 2013

CHARLESTON - A lawsuit against the West Virginia Department of Commerce-Division of Natural Resources was settled last year.

On Aug. 23, an Order Approving the Settlement &Distribution of the Wrongful Death Claims of the Estate of Austin C. Runyon was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The defendant agreed to pay settlement in the amount of $925,000, agreed to send out an agreed upon memo to all supervisors relating to swimming pool safety and agreed to pay the costs related and associated with obtaining court approval for the settlement, according to the order.

The defendant also agreed to pay $7,312.63 of the out-of-pocket medical, funeral and burial expenses Cynthia Fite incurred.

Of the $925,000, $314,260.67 is to be distributed to Greene, Ketchum, Bailey, Walker, Farrell & Tweel and Christian R. Harris for legal fees and legal costs; $1,591.62 to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia as full reimbursement for medical bills and expenses paid; $220,514.32 to Fite, of which $120,514.32 is to be put into an annuity brokered by Ringler Associates; Barry Cliff Runyon, Austin Runyon's father, is to receive $205,889.06; and the remaining amounts of $121,829.55 and $60,914.78 to Fite's other two sons, which will be put into annuities brokered by Ringler Associates.

On Aug. 13, 2010, Austin Runyon drowned in Chief Logan State Park’s swimming pool, according to a complaint filed May 16, 2011, in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Fite claimed her 8-year-old-son was attending a pool party with his family and friends at Chief Logan State Park and that there was only one lifeguard on duty to supervise the pool party.

Underwater lighting in the deep end of the pool and other safety features associated with the swimming pool were not working or not working properly at the time of the accident, according to the suit.

Fite claimed the defendant failed to keep the swimming pool in repair and maintained.

The defendant failed to remove unsafe and dangerous conditions on the premises and failed to warn the plaintiff of unsafe and dangerous conditions on the premises, according to the suit.

Fite was seeking compensatory damages. She was represented by Bert Ketchum and Christian R. Harris.

The defendants were represented by Wendy E. Greve of Pullin Fowler Flanagan Brown & Poe PLLC.

The case was assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-790

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