Waterbury Drowning: “Don’t Blame My Child’s Death for Your Theft”

BRIDGEPORT, Sept, 2012 – The mother of a child who drowned at the Waterbury Boys and Girls Club said today that she is outraged that the former head of that organization blames her child’s death for his criminal activity.

On June 9, 2008, Brianna was in the Club pool with about 30 other young children and only one staff person, dressed in street clothes, on duty. Brianna slipped under water and was not pulled out until another child in the pool called for lifeguard help. It was too late.

“My daughter drowned four years ago. The Boys & Girls Club never offered us an explanation, or their sympathy,” said Retemar Coombs, whose daughter Brianna Murray drowned in the Club’s pool when she was 5 years old. “We had to file a lawsuit to get the Club to even think about its responsibility. Now the former head of the Club is blaming my daughter’s drowning for his personal problems and for stealing! If he was so upset by Brianna’s death, why hasn’t he apologized? Why hasn’t he changed the way the pool is run to prevent another death in the future?”

Robert Generali, the former head of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterbury and a well-known and long-time community leader, admitted to stealing from the organization but claimed his actions resulted from alcohol abuse that began because of Brianna’s drowning. He has asked the court for leniency when he is sentenced for theft, fraud, and other crimes next month.

Atty. Kathleen Nastri of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, represents Coombs and her family.

“We tried to settle this lawsuit several years ago but the Club does not seem interested in resolving the matter,” Nastri said. “We offered twice to settle the case for limits of the Club’s liability insurance, but the Club continued to deny responsibility and has refused to seriously discuss settlement. Even worse, the club has not corrected the problems that led to Brianna’s death, and has not taken the steps necessary to prepare the case for a court trial that is slated for next year.”

“Mr. Generali’s actions do not reflect those of a man who feels guilt or remorse about Brianna’s tragic drowning, Nastri added. He has had ample opportunity to take responsibility and do the right thing by apologizing to the Coombs family and settling the case, which would allow him to move forward with his life. By saying that his guilt over this young girl’s drowning has led to his criminal behavior is both shocking and shameful.”

The lawsuit, filed in September 2009, said the Club failed to properly train its lifeguards, failed to have the proper number of guards on duty when 30 children were in the pool, and failed to have a proper emergency plan.

Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, is a nationally known law firm that has achieved record verdicts for people who suffer serious personal injuries or economic harm from medical malpractice, violation of their civil or constitutional rights, dangerous products, negligence, drunk drivers, corporate or governmental abuse and commercial misconduct.