HOUSTON - A final civil settlement was reached Monday in a hotel swimming pool electrocution death that a devastated family claimed was "gross negligence of epic proportions."
Raul Hernandez Martinez, 27, died 6 days after the 2013 Labor Day weekend incident.
He and his family had gathered at the Hilton Houston Westchase hotel and several family members were in the hotel swimming pool when the pool lights came on.
Martinez' little brother David Duran, 11, began to convulse in the deep end of the pool. Their mom, Maria Isabel Duran, tried to reach the boy but was shocked unconscious by the electrical current.
Family members pulled her from the pool where she was revived via CPR. Martinez, meanwhile, reached his little brother and pushed him to the edge where others pulled the boy out.
But Martinez became motionless as the current continued to surge through the pool.
Rescued and revived, he never recovered and was removed from life support 6 days later.
"The layers of negligence and inaction are very disturbing in this case and I think as the record unfolds you'll see that," said attorney John B. Thomas when he filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Duran/Hernandez family.
Settlements were eventually reached with both Hilton Hotels and the electrical contractor, Brown Electric Inc., without the case going to trial.
The investigation showed that the Hilton Westchase did not meet city, state, and national electrical codes and that the pool did not have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) on the pool lighting system - which are standard safety features in pool construction, or kitchen and bathroom design, where electrical systems might come in contact with water.
The final settlement signed Monday provided additional millions in both college funds and life-time annuity support for David Duran and Valeria Sanchez.
The settlement is being paid by the hotel operator, a division of Arlington, Virginia-based Interstate Hotels and Resorts Inc., a leading global hotel management company; and the owner of the Hilton Westchase hotel, a subsidiary of Boston-based venture capital firm Wheelock Street Capital"
Sanchez, the daughter of Martinez' girlfriend Lorena Mendoza, was also shocked by the sudden electrical surge that day.
"It's something you always carry with you because you lost somebody you love," Mendoza said after the civil court settlement was signed.
"I'm very happy that some justice has been done here but I want everyone to know that my life has changed completely," said Maria Isabel Duran who constructed a memorial tribute and shrine at to her deceased son at the back of her Missouri City home.
"The one thing we know about this case is it's really changed the way hotels are going to do business. This simple device would have saved Raul's life," said Thomas holding one of the GFCI devices in his hand.
The total settlement amount, distributed to several members of the Duran, Martinez family, was not disclosed. Attorneys for Hilton had no comment after the Monday court hearing.