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Pinellas jury awards $7.5 million to man who fell in hot tub

CLEARWATER — A Pinellas jury has awarded $7.5 million to a man who said he suffered permanent back and neck injuries after falling into a partially drained hot tub at the Boca Ciega Resort & Marina a decade ago.

It is likely one of the largest injury-related verdicts rendered in Pinellas County civil court.

In February 2008, Ehab Mina said he was using the hot tub of the resort at 8800 Bay Pines Blvd. in the afternoon. He went up to his condo for a few hours and then returned to the hot tub that evening. That's when he said he was injured.

First, the tub was not lit, according to Mina's attorneys — Wil Florin, Tom Roebig, and Chad Florin — who argued his case in civil court.

They also said that at some point before Mina descended to the pool area again, management had partially drained the hot tub.

As he stepped in, his lawyers said, Mina lost his balance, fell backward and injured himself.

The resort and its management company, Condos by Sirata, were negligent by failing to provide adequate lighting in the evening hours and failing to rope off the empty hot tub, the plaintiff's lawyers said.

Mina, who built boats before he was injured, underwent a series of back surgeries as well as one shoulder operation.

Last year, a jury determined that the resort and Condos by Sirata were equally at fault.

This week, a second jury deliberated for 11 hours and ruled on the damages portion of the case.

Their verdict covers Mina's medical expenses and lost wages.

"I think he's relieved to have this part of the process behind him," said attorney Wil Florin. "I'm sure he's anxious about whether or not the insurance company is going to make him whole or whether they're going to continue on with an appeal."

Contact Laura C. Morel at Follow @lauracmorel.