A father has filed suit after his toddler was found at the bottom of a Motel 6 swimming pool in Lufkin, Texas on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Nearby witnesses tried to resuscitate three-year-old Ariana Smith but were too late.
“We know from surveillance video that she was under the water for several minutes,” commented Lufkin Police. Ariana later died at a Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
According to police investigation, it appeared the little girl left her family’s hotel room while her father, Rondarius Smith, was sleeping. The child gained access to the fenced pool area due to a broken gate latch.
Mr. Smith’s attorney, Michael Pierce of Pierce Skrabanek PLLC, commented that “In a commercial setting like this, the industry standard is that you would have a fence that would be at least 48 inches tall, that would have some type of mechanisms on the gate to prevent this exact type of incident.”
Pierce explained that under Texas law, the hotel’s owner owes a duty to its patrons of ensuring safety on its premises. In other words, the business is responsible for conducting and maintaining proper inspections as well as training employees on how to appropriately manage pool security.
“If you own a business and if you welcome the public into that business for your financial benefit, you have a responsibility to repair known defects on the property,” Pierce said. “You also have a responsibility to be reasonable in inspecting the property so that you can discover defects like this and you can correct them so that this type of accident doesn’t happen.”
The lawsuit specifies that the lack of proper training and broken gate latch near the pool both contributed to gross negligence.
Rondarius Smith filed the lawsuit against Smit Inc., Motel 6 Inc., and G6 Hospitality and is seeking restitution of more than $1,000,0000.