Drowned child's family claims supervision negligence at Swim America

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The daycare disaster killed Tyler Jay in August 2015 and the new lawsuit claims the swim school was so negligent, they violated state regulations. (KFSN)

It's been one year since a three-year-old drowned in a pool at Swim America. Now, a lawsuit could bring a new nightmare to the business with ties to schools in Fresno and Clovis.

The daycare disaster killed Tyler Jay in August 2015 and the new lawsuit claims the swim school was so negligent, they violated state regulations for water safety. Tyler's life ended in the four-foot waters of the main pool at Swim America. It was his first week at the connected preschool at Camp America, and his first dip in the pools.

"This is a tragedy for everyone," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "There's no question about that. I just can't imagine the pain and suffering the parents have gone though and will go through."

The pain hasn't faded as Tyler's family learned more about the circumstances of his death. Their new lawsuit says Swim America and its owners-- Rick and Lori Klatt-- were more interested in profit than their child's safety.

Tyler's preschool class was supposed to be in the Swim America kiddie pool, but he slipped away. The lawsuit says Swim America had one preschool teacher watching more than a dozen kids, violating state regulations.

"Just the mere fact that you didn't follow that regulation shows that you're negligent and therefore responsible," Capozzi said. "The other thing that the plaintiffs need to show is that the supervision was not enough at the time and that the damages, the death, occurred because of that."

The suit also says Swim America broke a state regulation by having no adults in the area who had a valid water safety certificate. The preschool has now closed, along with Tumble America and Dance America, and Swim America now goes by America's Kids. The business extended its relationship with Clovis Unified this year and it's also offering swimming at Fresno Unified pools.

But Capozzi says it might be looking at a big payout.

"The biggest issue here will be what the damages are and there's no formula for this," he said. "How do you determine what is the value of a 3-year-old boy whose life is gone?"

Action News talked to an attorney for the Jay family Monday, but they've chosen not to comment. We also reached out to the Klatt's but never heard back from them.

The district attorney's office tells us they chose not to file criminal charges in the case.
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