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staff reporter A jury in contra Costa County, Calif., awarded $27.75 million to a college athlete whose dreams of the Olympics were ruined after a diving accident at a city pool rendered him quadriplegic. Scott Shropshire, 20, was a rising star on the diving team at the University of California at Davis. In July 2000, Shropshire’s coach invited him to attend a high school practice session at a facility owned by the city of Walnut Creek, Calif. The pool was being used by diving and synchronized swim teams in a shared practice. The teams were taking turns in the pool, but one of the swimmers, a 15-year-old girl, inadvertently swam into the landing area while Shropshire was diving. They collided, leaving Shropshire with irreparable spinal cord injuries. In a unanimous decision, the jury determined that the city was 60% liable for the accident because the pool, which had no lane dividers, amounted to a “dangerous condition of public safety.” The jury also attributed 10% fault to each team and 15% to the 15-year-old swimmer. Shropshire’s lawyers, William B. Smith and R.J. Waldsmith of Abramson & Smith in San Francisco, argued that the accident could have been prevented with proper scheduling or lane dividers. Defense counsel William H. Staples and Joseph Wright of San Francisco’s Archer Norris plan to appeal. Three of the coaches were certified lifeguards, said Staples, so the city believed it had taken reasonable precautions. “Coaches are not aquatic-risk managers,” countered Smith. “The city had an aquatic-risk manager who was not doing his job.” Shropshire v. Walnut Creek, No. C-01-02541. McAree’s e-mail address is

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