|By Scott Johnson, Montgomery Advertiser,
Ala.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 26, 2009--A jury returned a nearly $3.8 million verdict Tuesday against a Montgomery hotel where a 19-year-old football player suffered injuries that led to his death two years ago.
Derrick Marshall was a standout receiver at Wetumpka High School who had signed with Alabama State University.
Marshall was about to start two-a-day workouts with the Hornets when he drowned in the pool at the Rodeway Inn, formerly known as King's Inn, on West South Boulevard during a family reunion July 29, 2007, said Josh Wright, an attorney for Marshall's family.
Marshall did not die immediately, but was left in a vegetative state. He died at the age of 20 in November 2007 at Jackson Hospital.
The Montgomery County Health Department had shut down the pool at the hotel, and the family alleged that hotel employees told them they could use the pool anyway.
Marshall was in the deep end, and was unable to be found for 10 to 12 minutes because the pool was so cloudy, the family said.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 7, 2007, against the hotel, and a general manager, Tamara Mitchell, later was added, Wright said.
Wright said the $3,766,000 verdict sends a strong message to public hotels in Alabama.
"If you fail to follow reasonable standards in the operation and management of public pools, you have to answer to an Alabama jury. This is a terrible tragedy that was very preventable as we see it," Wright said in a statement.
Attempts to contact defense attorneys in the case were not successful.
The Rodeway Inn is now under new management and has been "cleaned up," said Judith Harper, property manager.
A new management team from Atlanta took over at the hotel about two months ago, Harper said.
The pool is open, the rooms have been renovated and a police officer is on duty there at night, she said.
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