Adams Stirling PLC


QUESTION: We have frequent problems with alcohol at the pool where people are drinking all day. They are getting drunk and causing problems for staff and guests. Can we search coolers to prevent glass and alcohol from being brought into the pool area?

ANSWER: In addition to impaired judgment caused by alcohol consumption, there is the risk of injury from broken glass. If an alcohol-related injury or death occurs in your pool or spa, the association will almost certainly be sued. Even if the association is ultimately found not liable for the injury/death, the claim can drive up insurance rates.

Potential Liability. Your board is already on notice of three sources of serious injury: broken glass, altercations, and drownings--all related to alcohol at the pool. If injuries occur and litigation erupts, directors could find themselves in front of a jury answering questions about why they did nothing to protect members from injury or death.

Privacy Issues. Inspecting coolers is a reasonable solution. It's easier to stop alcohol at the gate than to force a combative drunk out of the pool area. Is this an invasion of privacy? Sports stadiums, concert venues, and airports inspect backpacks, coolers, and luggage every day without violating the law. If someone refuses to open a cooler, they can leave it outside the pool gate.

Recommendation: If you don't have rules against alcohol and glass at the pool, you need to properly adopt them. If rules are already in place, you don't need to revise them to include inspection of coolers. Even so, you should give notice to the membership that you will be inspecting coolers. Make sure you explain why--to protect the safety of those using the pool, to avoid costly litigation, and to keep insurance premiums down.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC