Jury Awards 24 Million in Fatal Cabana Crash

A jury awarded $24 million to the husband of a pregnant woman who was killed when a car crashed into a cabana at a Fort Lauderdale Hotel.

The judgment was awarded Wednesday to Michael Demella, husband of Alanna Demella, who was killed in a crash at the Riverside Hotel in March 2012 after a car driven by Rosa Rivera Kim crashed into the pool cabana.

"I look back and I know, I know what they're going through," Michael Demella said Wednesday.

The pain of losing his wife Alanna was still very real for Demella. The young couple won a trip through church to stay at the hotel near Las Olas.

Kim had a .24 blood alcohol level when she plowed right into the Cabana at a curve in the road, killing Alanna. She was seven months pregnant with a son, whose name would have been Joshua.

"Nothing can be done to bring Alanna back or replace what I've lost. I can only seek justice in the criminal and civil courts. And I feel that our legal system didn't let me down," Demella said.

Kim was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January.

The jury found 85 percent of fault with Kim and 15 percent with Riverside Hotel, which has to pay $3.6 million of the award.

"The jury obviously recognized this drunk driver had a terrible driving pattern, but that the hotel knew these types of drivers existed on this road and could have prevented something to prevent it," attorney Brad Edwards said.

Edwards introduced a traffic study for Sagamore Street where the hotel sits.

"Many of those people speed in excess of 50 miles per hour and that's on a daily basis," he said. At least two cars were clocked at 75 miles per hour, according to the study.

Edwards argued the hotel knew it was a problem. One hotel employee even wrote an email to the city council calling the street a race track. The hotel even held its own safety meetings in which it was brought up.

It was all evidence the jury clearly thought brought culpability.

"At some point in time they knew it was such a problem, they put up a stop sign, they, the Riverside Hotel put a stop sign on a city-owned road, as we all know is not legal," Edwards said.

The hotel released a statement that hinted at an appeal.

"The jury properly found that the lion's share of responsibility should be placed on the drunk driver who caused this accident," the statement read, in part. "We remain confident that the hotel has no legal responsibility for this accident caused by that drunk driver. We look forward to working through the legal process to overturn the jury verdict."

Demella said the jury award offers closure to a three-year horror story but it won't bring back the love of his life.

"She is an amazing woman," he said.

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