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Widower Awarded $24 Million Following Death of Pregnant Wife

A Broward County Circuit Court jury this week awarded a widower $24 million following his pregnant wife’s tragic death at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, according to a report in the Sun-Sentinel.

A drunk driver rammed into a cabana at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Michael DeMella and his pregnant wife, Alanna DeMella, were sitting by the pool.

The Broward County jury awarded DeMella $24 million, assigning 15 percent liability to the Riverside Hotel, which comes out to $3.6 million.

The incident occurred more than three years ago, when a drunk driver hopped the curb, cross a sidewalk and crashed into the poolside seating area, which killed Alanna DeMella, who was 26, and her unborn son. The DeMellas were planning to name him Joshua, the report states.

Mr. DeMella had been in the restroom just a few feet away when the incident occurred in March 2012. He suffered only minor injuries.

The driver, Rosa Rivera Kim had a blood alcohol content level three times above the legal limit in Florida at the time of the incident. Kim, who is 37 and from Plantation, pleaded guilty in criminal court to two counts of DUI manslaughter. She was sentenced in January to 15 years in prison. She was five months pregnant herself at the time of her sentencing hearing.

Alanna DeMella was 7 months pregnant with the couple’s first child when she was killed. They were visiting Fort Lauderdale from their home of Woburn, Massachusetts. They won the trip to Fort Lauderdale for a two-day marriage conference from their home church.

DeMella filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the Riverside Hotel shortly after the incident.

Arguments at Trial

During the trial, DeMella’s attorney argued that the Riverside Hotel was aware of the security and safety concerns posed by the nearby roadway and should have taken precautions to protect its guests. There was no protection or barrier between the road, which took a sharp bend near the pool, and the guests in cabanas.

The road also was well traveled and motorists often drove much faster than the speed limit posted, the report states.

“The road was referred to by hotel management as a race track,” Brad Edwards, Michael DeMella’s attorney, said at trial.

Following the decision by the jury, Edwards said his client is satisfied.

“He feels like both [the criminal and civil justice] systems worked,” Edwards, said of his client, according to the report. “No matter what, you can never bring back Alanna. …He feels that [the jury] got this right.”

Have you lost a loved one to a drunk driver?

If you’ve lost a loved one to a negligent drunk driver, you may be eligible for compensation. If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Boone & Davis in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We have the experience and knowledge to help you mount the best possible case moving forward so you and your family receive the justice you deserve during this difficult time.

Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and serves clients in and around Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Broward County.

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