Family Sues Hilton Over Electrocution in Pool

What do you think of this? I thought all pool lights had to be GFCI protected. Wouldn't the gfci had saved this man?


HOUSTON (CN) - Hilton Worldwide negligently allowed a known electrical system problem to become a "pool of death" for a Texas man visiting the hotelier's Houston Westchase property, his family claims in court.
According to a lawsuit filed in Harris County, Texas, Raul Hernandez Martinez succumbed to injuries from electric shock a week after rescuing family members from the pool during Labor Day weekend, 2013.




http://ecmweb.com/around-circuit/fam...trocution-pool


http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/10/07/61815.htm
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Wouldn't the gfci had saved this man?
More details are necessary to know for certain. It is likely there also was bonding issues that contributed to this event. If everything that is conductive is properly bonded together you can introduce any voltage anyplace in the environment and everything is brought to same potential via the bonding system. Leave a hole in the bonding system somewhere and you have shock potential that will not trip any GFCI's as there is no unbalanced current on the GFCI protected circuit to cause it to trip.
 

acrwc10

Senior Member
I have seen "electricians" wire around the GFCI in pool equipment before, leaving the GFCI breaker's neutral disconnected and the branch circuit neutral straight to the neutral buss.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
I have seen "electricians" wire around the GFCI in pool equipment before, leaving the GFCI breaker's neutral disconnected and the branch circuit neutral straight to the neutral buss.
That should not work with current GFCIs, since they will not hold in or at least will not reset without voltage present.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
That should not work with current GFCIs, since they will not hold in or at least will not reset without voltage present.
Not true, I recently tested one and posted results on this forum. I was replacing a 2 pole GFCI for a hot tub because the original would not reset. It was a Homeline 50 amp GFCI. I remembered a discussion here and decided to do some checking while there, I will see if I can find the thread and post a link to it, but when the GFCI line side neutral was not connected I could turn it on, did have 240 volts at the load terminals, could not trip with test button, could not trip by connecting load from a load terminal to ground, essentially there was no GFCI protection as far as I could tell but still was output voltage.

Link to my post where I first submitted this information
 
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GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Not true, I recently tested one and posted results on this forum. I was replacing a 2 pole GFCI for a hot tub because the original would not reset. It was a Homeline 50 amp GFCI. I remembered a discussion here and decided to do some checking while there, I will see if I can find the thread and post a link to it, but when the GFCI line side neutral was not connected I could turn it on, did have 240 volts at the load terminals, could not trip with test button, could not trip by connecting load from a load terminal to ground, essentially there was no GFCI protection as far as I could tell but still was output voltage.
Sorry, I was thinking of 120V GFCIs rather than 120/240 MWBC or pure 240 with no neutral loads. Which is not going to be any real hot tub. :happysad:
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Sorry, I was thinking of 120V GFCIs rather than 120/240 MWBC or pure 240 with no neutral loads. Which is not going to be any real hot tub. :happysad:
I suspect that if you do not connect the neutral on a single pole GFCI breaker you will be able to reset it also but have no protection.

Actually,for the receptacle type GFCI's, I haven't tested them but suspect that you could bypass them also. May be more difficult to bypass a receptacle type and still have 120 volts available at the GFCI receptacle itself but you could probably run either the hot or the neutral through the GFCI and bypass the GFCI with the other conductor and still have non protected downstream receptacles or other loads. Kind of have to intentionally defeat the thing though where with a breaker it is easier to simply make a wiring mistake and lose protection.
 

kbsparky

Senior Member
Location
Delmarva, USA
Stray voltage around a pool can be a big problem. Even with the main breaker "off" --- I've seen stray voltages sufficient enough to cause shock and discomfort to those getting into and out of a pool.

It's not always a GFCI issue ...
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Stray voltage around a pool can be a big problem. Even with the main breaker "off" --- I've seen stray voltages sufficient enough to cause shock and discomfort to those getting into and out of a pool.

It's not always a GFCI issue ...
Agreed! In some cases there is even a large voltage gradient in the earth under and around the pool because of unrelated fault current. Hence the need for an equipotential grid rather than "grounding."
At the very least, when you hit the step or touch potential, you will be far enough from the pool that you will not fall in and drown. :)
 

hurk27

Senior Member
I suspect that if you do not connect the neutral on a single pole GFCI breaker you will be able to reset it also but have no protection.

Actually,for the receptacle type GFCI's, I haven't tested them but suspect that you could bypass them also. May be more difficult to bypass a receptacle type and still have 120 volts available at the GFCI receptacle itself but you could probably run either the hot or the neutral through the GFCI and bypass the GFCI with the other conductor and still have non protected downstream receptacles or other loads. Kind of have to intentionally defeat the thing though where with a breaker it is easier to simply make a wiring mistake and lose protection.
The newer UL standards prevent any wiring around a GFCI receptacle, this was done by not only disconnecting the line from the load terminals but also breaking the connection from the receptacle located on the GFCI and the load terminals.

Before you could reverse feed a GFCI receptacle by putting the supply on the load side and the down stream receptacle on the line side, the down stream receptacle would have GFCI protection and would disconnect when the GFCI tripped but the receptacle contacts on the GFCI would remain hot, found a few GFCI's located behind refrigerators wired like this to keep the fridge hot if the GFCI tripped, but now since you have to have power on the line side before it will reset and the fact that both connections are disconnected and from each other, it no longer works like that, this was done to prevent mis-wiring which could leave the contacts on the GFCI still hot even if the GFCI tripped.

With breakers without the neutral pigtail connected the electronics do not function, but I don't see why they couldn't do the same thing they did with the receptacle version by not letting the breaker reset if there is no power to the electronics? seems like UL should apply this to the breaker version also?
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
The newer UL standards prevent any wiring around a GFCI receptacle, this was done by not only disconnecting the line from the load terminals but also breaking the connection from the receptacle located on the GFCI and the load terminals.

Before you could reverse feed a GFCI receptacle by putting the supply on the load side and the down stream receptacle on the line side, the down stream receptacle would have GFCI protection and would disconnect when the GFCI tripped but the receptacle contacts on the GFCI would remain hot, found a few GFCI's located behind refrigerators wired like this to keep the fridge hot if the GFCI tripped, but now since you have to have power on the line side before it will reset and the fact that both connections are disconnected and from each other, it no longer works like that, this was done to prevent mis-wiring which could leave the contacts on the GFCI still hot even if the GFCI tripped.

With breakers without the neutral pigtail connected the electronics do not function, but I don't see why they couldn't do the same thing they did with the receptacle version by not letting the breaker reset if there is no power to the electronics? seems like UL should apply this to the breaker version also?
But once you have the device reset, then take one conductor and wire around the device instead of through it, you have no control power to the electronics to trip it, my guess is you will effectively bypass it by doing so, but like I said you about have to intentionally do this and for down stream loads as well as the GFCI receptacle will not have 120 volts between output terminals, where with a GFCI breaker it could be a little easier for someone not knowing any better to miswire it and end up with no protection.

The only thing I see that is fairly foolproof would be the GFCI's that are used on power cords that must have power to reset, and also must continue to have power to stay set, but consumers would not be very happy having things like refrigerators and freezers that sometimes end up on GFCI's end up tripping anytime there is a small "blink" in supply voltage.
 

JDBrown

Senior Member
Location
California
I just want to publicly state that I have no affiliation to the "Brown Electric" mentioned in the article.

This is what happens when people hire hacks who ignore the code and can't be bothered with trivialities like permits or inspection.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
I just want to publicly state that I have no affiliation to the "Brown Electric" mentioned in the article.

This is what happens when people hire hacks who ignore the code and can't be bothered with trivialities like permits or inspection.
It is not clear from the narrative so far how much responsibility also belongs to the hotel employees who knew that there was a problem but did not exercise enough caution to confirm whether it was fixed properly and to shut down the pool when they saw that the problem continued.
 

LEO2854

Esteemed Member
Location
Ma
It is not clear from the narrative so far how much responsibility also belongs to the hotel employees who knew that there was a problem but did not exercise enough caution to confirm whether it was fixed properly and to shut down the pool when they saw that the problem continued.
How would the hotel employees know unless they're electricians themselves.?
 
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