HICKS THOMAS LLP SETTLES HILTON POOL ELECTROCUTION LAWSUIT
Hicks Thomas LLP obtained a confidential settlement for the family of Raul Martinez, a man who was electrocuted in a Hilton pool in West Houston.
The accident occurred when 27-year-old Martinez was swimming with his mother and 11-year-old brother at the Hilton Westchase hotel. As the 11-year-old boy swam toward the edge of the pool, the underwater lights came on, sending a surge of electricity through the water.
The boy’s mother tried to save him, but was knocked unconscious by the electrical field entering the pool from a malfunctioning pool light.Martinez entered the pool in time to save his brother, but was unable to survive his own injuries. Martinez’ mother and several other family members survived the incident and brought a civil lawsuit against the hotel owner and manager.
Lawsuit Claims Shoddy Repairs, Unpermitted Maintenance, Negligence, Wrongful Death
According to the lawsuit, the pool was not up to city, state, or national electrical codes. These standards required the hotel to install ground fault circuit interrupters, safety devices that cut power to the pool in the event of an electrical accident. According to investigators for the State of Texas and inspectors for the City of Houston, these devices would have saved Martinez’ life.
Although maintenance workers repeatedly noted a problem with the pool light, the ground fault circuit interrupter was never installed.
John Thomas of Hicks Thomas LLP, the plaintiffs’ firm, stated that, “On five separate occasions in July, before our client died, hotel maintenance recorded that there was a short in the pool light…The pool wasn’t right. It wasn’t up to code. Hilton knew it.”Additionally, the electrical company that worked on the pool failed to obtain a permit for their work, which would have resulted in a city inspection to ensure the work was done properly and up to the required standards.
“Hilton did not want the permit obtained,” said Thomas, “It is very surprising to us - but given the fact that, when you bring an inspector out, they make you do a lot more work than you might plan on -maybe it’s not so surprising after all.”
Hilton Denies Liability for Electrocution Death
Multiple parties mentioned in the lawsuit, including the Hilton hotel manager, denied accountability for Martinez’ death. When asked, the general manager of Hilton Houston Westchase stated that the hotel’s management company was not responsible for the accident, even in the face of undeniable negligence.
The Defendants Settle After Jury Selection
A jury of nine women and three men was empaneled to hear the case in the 151 st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. The case settled shortly after jury selection. “We are very pleased with the settlement” said Hicks Thomas partner, Stephen Loftin, “but money will not bring Raul back. The family hopes that the notoriety of this case will bring attention to pool electrical safety and help prevent this from happening to another family in the future.”