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Hilton Pool Electrocution Death Case Reaches Settlement

A part of the lawsuit over a Houston man's electrocution death at the Westchase Hilton last August has been settled.

The family of Raul Hernandez is still struggling to cope in the wake of his death last August. Hernandez, 27, jumped into a pool to rescue his younger brother and mother who were both being electrocuted after the pool light snapped on. His mother, Maria Isabel Duran, and his youngest brother, David Duran, then 11, survived, but Hernandez never regained consciousness. He died days later.

Duran filed a lawsuit for wrongful death in October against Hilton Worldwide Inc., Interstate Hotels and Resorts LLC, WS Westchase LLC, Interstate Westchase LP, Westchase Tenant LLC, Interstate Management Co. LLC, and Brown Electric Inc. The family recently settled with Brown Electric, the company responsible for recent electric work on the pool, lawyer Stephen Loftin said.

Loftin said he can't disclose the details of the settlement, but that Hernandez's family was relatively pleased to see even part of the lawsuit finished. "Obviously, the money is the only way our system can compensate somebody, but it's certainly not going to bring Raul Hernandez back," Loftin said. "The family knows this, but they want to get the word out so that other people know about this and make sure those pools are safe so this doesn't happen again."

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Hernandez's family is still working to recover from his death. While his mother and youngest brother have both physically recovered, the entire family is in counseling to cope with their grief. The trial won't be easy, but Loftin said they are prepared to see this through.

The other defendants, including Hilton, haven't shown any signs of wanting to settle, Loftin said, so they are preparing for trial. The case is slated to go to trial in November.

As they work to get ready for the trial, Loftin said they are learning some disturbing things through the exchange of information during the discovery period. "We're in the middle of discovery, and we're learning things that are disturbing about their knowledge of the problems with the pool and their knowledge about problems with the light in the pool," Loftin said. "It looks like they had knowledge of the problems up to a few days before this happened, and you'd expect they'd have closed the pool and gotten people in to repair it, but they didn't do that."

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