Hemphill v. Johnson – Case Brief Summary (Georgia)

In Hemphill v. Johnson (1998) 230 Ga. App. 478 497 S.E.2d 16, the defendant, Johnson, admitted that she had undertaken the responsibility to supervise the children who came to her house to swim in her pool and there was a triable issue as to whether she breached that duty in causing the drowning death of an 11-year-old child.

Before Johnson permitted the child into her pool, she sent the child home to get parental permission, which she obtained. Johnson, who admitted that she undertook to supervise the child, allowed the child to swim in the deep end of the pool, even though Johnson could not swim underwater, had no lifesaving equipment, and was not strong enough to pull the child from the water.

When the child began to drown, Johnson did not jump into the pool to rescue her.

In reversing a summary judgment in favor of Johnson, the court stated, "Given these circumstances, a jury could find that Johnson's decision to let the child swim in the deep end was both unreasonable and a proximate cause of her death. We cannot say, therefore, that Johnson's supervision of the child was not negligent as a matter of law." (Id. at p. 19.)