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Beach Grit

How to: Sue a North Shore Lifeguard!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Almost drown. Get saved. Hire a lawyer…

One of the lesser known treats of being in the life-saving game is the potential for a ruinous lawsuit.

Man goes for swim, gets in trouble, his ass is pulled out of the water, winds up a little brain-damaged ‘cause of the time he spent underwater, hits the lifeguard who pulled him out with court action. Makes a million bucks, spends it on hookers and reefer. (The rest he wastes on nursing care.)

It’s why for the last fifteen years North Shore lifeguards, those studs who’ll drag you off the reef at Pipe or out of the rip at Waimea, have had a state-funded limited liability protection.

However that protection is going to expire in June and hopes that the immunity was going to be extended were squashed yesterday by State House lawmakers.

And, according to Khon2,

The Hawaii Association for Justice does not support immunity for lifeguards. In written testimony, it stated “only lifeguards are allowed to perform at a substandard level by providing them with immunity against their negligent performance of lifeguard services.”

State Representative Scott Nishimoto said in a statement that the amendments created a fair bill that protects lifeguards and the public. He said, “No other first responders, such as firefighters, police officers, or EMT ambulance personnel have statutory immunity to perform their duties at a level below reasonable care.”

Mark Healey, who rides Great Whites and Great Waves, ain’t buying the change in the game.

Lawmakers in Hawaii have gutted and replaced language of SB 562 in an effort to remove limited liability protections for lifeguards. These recent amendments will put 90% of Hawaii’s Lifeguards at risk of personal lawsuits, cost taxpayers more dollars and put beachgoers at risk. Personal injury lawyers will be the only ones to benefit from frivolous lawsuits against our lifeguards. Please call or email Joe Souki 808-586-6100 [email protected] and Ron Kouchi 808-586-6030 [email protected] to urge them to oppose the recent amendments to SB 562 and leave the liability immunity intact. Please share with family and friends by reposting this image and #PROTECTHAWAIILIFEGUARDS @civilbeat article in our bio for more info.

A post shared by Mark Healey (@healeywaterops) on

What’s your take? Should a lifeguard be dragged through a civil court for a rescue that goes wrong? Would the threat of opportunistic lawsuits turn ’em into whistle-blowing-don’t-go-near-the-fucking-water nazis even when it’s three foot, like Australia’s volunteer surf lifesavers?

Watch ’em in action here.

And if you want more, how about the time Ev Geiselman nearly got iced.