A chain of swim schools based in Fallston is suing the state health department, as well as those in Carroll and Baltimore counties, alleging that the agencies unfairly targeted the schools over chlorine regulations.
Kids First Swim Schools, which has about a dozen locations in Maryland, accuses the county and state health departments of making untrue statements about the quality of its pool water.
"Our feeling is we've been unfairly singled out," said Kids First owner Gary Roth.
According to the lawsuit, filed this month in Carroll County Circuit Court, the Carroll County Health Department found during a series of inspections beginning in June 2011 that combined chlorine levels were too high at the Kids First pool in Finksburg. The department suspended the pool's permit in March 2012.
Last month, the Carroll Health Department issued a news release stating that the Finksburg pool had been operating without a permit for 15 months. The month before, an administrative law judge had upheld Carroll County health officials' suspension of the permit.
The lawsuit, which seeks $2 million in punitive damages, alleges that Maryland's combined chlorine limit is not applied to other pools in Carroll County or across the state. It says independent testing of other pools in Carroll County shows that those facilities have chlorine levels above the state limit.
It also says Kids First has spent thousands of dollars trying to bring the Finksburg pool up to code, to no avail.
Officials with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Carroll County Health Department said Tuesday that their agencies had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment. A spokeswoman for Baltimore County government said officials would not comment on pending litigation.
Roth said Baltimore County has moved to shut down its Cockeysville pool after testing there. Kids First has appealed that action, and an administrative law judge has not yet ruled on the case, he said.
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